Jacksonville, FL — Relativity, the startup developing a small launch vehicle using additive manufacturing technologies, announced Jan. 17 it has won approval from the U.S. Air Force to build a launch site at Cape Canaveral.
The company said it had received a “Statement of Capability” from the 45th Space Wing, which operates Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, allowing the company to develop a launch facility on the site of Launch Complex (LC) 16. The agreement gives Relativity exclusive access to the site for a 20-year term.
The agreement permits Relativity to proceed with construction of infrastructure at the site to support launches of its Terran 1 rocket. That includes a payload processing facility, a vehicle integration hangar, a horizontal transporter/erector, propellant storage farms and other equipment needed for launches there, said Tim Ellis, chief executive of Relativity, in an interview.
“We’ve been thinking about launch sites since Day 1 three years ago,” he said, but only formally kicked off a launch site selection process six months ago. The company considered a number of launch sites in the United States but considered Cape Canaveral their top choice.
“The clear winner to us was partnering with the U.S. Air Force at Cape Canaveral,” he said. “We really view it as the most elite launch site in the world.”
LC-16 was built in the 1950s for tests of Titan 1 and Titan 2 missiles. It was later used to support NASA’s Gemini and Apollo program but hosted no launches for those efforts in the 1960s. It was then used to for test launches of Pershing missiles, the last of which took place there in 1988.
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