Relativity to launch LEO satellite for mu Space

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WASHINGTON — Relativity announced April 23 it has secured a contract to launch a low Earth orbit satellite for Thai startup mu Space.

In a statement, Relativity said it will launch the unnamed satellite as a “primary, dedicated payload” to LEO on its Terran 1 rocket in 2022. The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal.

“We’re excited to partner with mu Space, a disruptive innovator in the Asia-Pacific region, to launch their satellite and space technologies with our 3D printed Terran 1 rocket,” Tim Ellis, chief executive of Relativity, said in a statement announcing the deal.

Mu Space did not disclose details about the satellite, including its mass and capabilities. The company previously announced plans to procure a geostationary orbit high-throughput communications satellite that will be launched in 2021 on Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, and issued a request for proposals for it last June. The company has not yet announced a manufacturer for that satellite.

Mu Space noted in its statement that it is working on technologies to accelerate adoption of Internet of Things technologies, including a “smart tracker” it unveiled earlier this year. The company has expressed interest in what some industry observers consider a quixotic assortment of projects and technologies, including spacesuits and other space exploration technologies.

“Relativity has the vision, team, and technology to deliver exceptional advantages in launching mu Space’s payloads, and supporting our goal of creating an interplanetary society in the future,” James Yenbamroong, chief executive of mu Space, said in a statement.

The contract is the second customer that Relativity has announced for its small launch vehicle. The company announced April 5 that Telesat had agreed to use Terran 1 for an unspecified number of launches of satellites for that operator’s broadband constellation under development. Those launches would begin no earlier than 2021.

In an interview earlier this month, Ellis said the company was making good progress on development of the rocket, which makes extensive use of 3D-printing technologies. The first launch of the rocket is planned for “the very end of 2020,” he said then, from a launch site the company plans to construct at Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It is also in the process of selecting a launch site for missions that need to go to polar orbits.