Thai satellite startup signs deal with 3D-Printed Rocket firm

Thailand’s satellite startup mu Space Corporation has signed an agreement with Relativity, a United States-based company that claims it will manufacture rockets through 3D printing, and the companies are planning to launch a Thai orbiter by 2022.

The agreement with mu Space is the second launch deal for Relativity, which operates out of Los Angeles and is funded solely by venture capital with billionaire Mark Cuban as one of its backers. The small launch vehicle developer was founded three-and-a-half years ago.

Relativity said it would launch a satellite for mu Space into low-earth orbit using its Terran 1 rocket. Executives at Relativity said Terran 1 would be the first rocket built using 3D-printing technology. The company has a machine named Stargate that it said is the largest metal 3D printer in the world, and it can print a rocket in 60 days.

Bangkok-based mu Space said it builds technologies “to accelerate the adoption of IoT (Internet of Things) devices and smart cities.” Along with satellite technologies, it has showcased a spacesuit design and said it would apply to NASA programs related to the American agency’s plans to land on the moon.

Relativity CEO Tim Ellis said the visions of the two companies are in alignment. Relativity is aiming to launch a 3D-printed rocket from Mars built with the resources found on the red planet, while mu Space would like to put 100 people on the moon in the next decade.

“People are seeing that 3D printing and that manufacturing – which is Relativity’s core technology – is the future of launch,” Ellis told Forbes magazine.