Move Over SpaceX: Relativity Space Now the Largest Commercial Presence at NASA Stennis

Lease agreement on vertical test stand brings Relativty’s total footprint at the rocket propulsion test center to 300 acres.

Relativity Space—the 3D printing aerospace company racing SpaceX to Mars—is continuing to grow its industrial base here on Earth with the signing of an enhanced use lease agreement (EULA) on a vertical test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. This will be the first time a commercial tenant is modifying a legacy test stand, and it makes Relativity the largest commercial presence at the Hancock, Mississippi center.

The A-2 Test Stand was originally constructed in 1966 for testing and flight-certifying the second stand of the Saturn V rocket. It was later used for engine testing for the Space Shuttle until 2009. Since then, aside from briefly being used for the now-defunct Constellation Program, the A-2 has been idle for nearly a decade. The agreement with Relativity will bring the A-2 back to life with a $267M investment over the next four years. According to the company, this will create hundreds of new jobs in the Hancock region to support development of the Terran R, Relativity’s medium-heavy lift rocket.

“We appreciate the support from NASA and the state of Mississippi and look forward to continuing to build out our team and testing infrastructure here in the Gulf Coast,” said Tim Ellis, Co-Founder and CEO of Relativity Space in a press release. “The scale of Terran R as a medium-heavy lift reusable launch vehicle is substantial. Exclusive access to these rare, national-asset facilities through partnership with NASA uniquely enables Relativity to develop a world-class launch vehicle.”

Building on the A-2 stand, Relativity will add new infrastructure to support first-stage testing of its reusable 3D-printed rocket. According to the company, the goal of signing the EULA for the A-2 stand is to increase the speed of iterative testing and shorten the Terran R’s time to market.

Since arriving on site in 2016, the company has grown into a valued member of the NASA Stennis community,” said Dr. Rick Gilbrech, Director of NASA’s Stennis Space Center in the same press release. “This increased footprint is a testament to Relativity’s continued progress in the commercial space arena.”

While the A-2 stand was originally designed for a maximum thrust of 1.5 million pounds, its current configuration enables it to withstand only 650,000 pounds. Relativity’s upgrades will take it beyond its original specifications, accommodating up to 3.3 million pounds of thrust.

As the largest commercial presence at Stennis, Relativity also holds exclusive leases on the E-2 and E-4 stands, a commercial use agreement for the E-1 site, and is building a new engine and stage test infrastructure in the R Complex. The company is actively hiring in the region, with multiple postings for engineers.

Visit the websites for Relativity Space and Stennis Space Center for more information.