Relativity new fcatory
Relativity Space will open a new factory and headquarters, with one million square feet of space, in a former Boeing C-17 production facility in Long Beach, California. Credit: Relativity Space

WASHINGTON — Relativity Space, the launch vehicle company that has raised more than $1 billion in private capital since late last year, announced it will move into a giant new headquarters and production facility in Southern California.

Relativity said June 30 it signed a deal to move into a one-million-square-foot factory in Long Beach, California, part of a 93-acre plant formerly used by Boeing for producing C-17 cargo aircraft. Relativity is working with architectural and design firm Gensler to renovate the building so that it can move into the building starting in January 2022.

The new facility, located adjacent to Long Beach Airport, will serve as both the new headquarters for Relativity as well as a factory for producing the new Terran R rocket. Relativity announced the Terran R, a two-stage fully reusable large launch vehicle, June 8 in conjunction with a $650 million funding round.

“Securing this space for Relativity’s headquarters, which is now one of the largest facilities in private space, right here in Long Beach, is key for scaling out our Terran R program, while also continuing to tap into the unparalleled talent here to join us on our mission,” Tim Ellis, chief executive and co-founder of Relativity, said in a statement.

Relativity moved to Long Beach in early 2020, opening a 120,000-square-foot facility “factory of the future” not far from the airport. The company will keep that facility and use it for production of its Terran 1 small launch vehicle, whose first launch is scheduled for no earlier than late this year from Florida.

The new, larger facility will accommodate dozens of the company’s Stargate 3D printers, which Relativity uses to produce nearly all the components of its vehicles. It will also house other equipment and a mission control center, and eventually host up to 2,000 employees, about five times the size of its current workforce.

Ellis, in an interview earlier this month about the new funding round, hinted that the company was planning an expansion to support work on Terran R. “The printers and overall factory won’t look extremely different from what we’ve already built,” he said. “But we certainly need more space and have expansion plans in the works.”

Relativity’s decision to expand in Long Beach, rather than set up a new factory in another city, further establishes the city as a space industry hub. Besides Relativity, Long Beach is home to small launch vehicle companies Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit as well as SpinLaunch, a company developing alternative launch technologies. SpaceX is leasing space at the Port of Long Beach to host booster recovery ships, taking berths once used by Sea Launch.

City officials have gone as far as to brand Long Beach as “Space Beach” to promote its growing space industry. “Relativity is a fierce and growing leader in our world’s space economy, and we’re proud they chose Long Beach as home,” Robert Garcia, mayor of Long Beach, said in a statement. “This new HQ will bring thousands of great, good-paying jobs to Long Beach and strengthen economic growth for the entire region.”

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...