Two young companies join SpaceX in the race to Mars. Relativity Space and Impulse Space, two California companies, have announced plans to launch a mission there will land on the surface of Mars in less than three years. These two young shots deserve to be taken seriously.
A completely new space age
Founded in 2015, Relativity Space has raised over $1 billion and is set to launch its tiny Terran 1 rocket this year. This company is looking to 3D print the majority of its vehicles. Like SpaceX, its Terran rocket is reusable. A thruster supposed to be slightly more powerful than SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and could go to Mars. Relativity Space estimates that its rocket will be ready to launch in 2024 in the direction of Mars to carry out a very first mission.
For its part, Impulse Space is not even a year old. This does not prevent the company from being very ambitious. The company was founded by Tom Mueller, first employee hired by SpaceX and department manager “drive” for more than ten years. For several years, the engineer oversaw the manufacture of the engines that equip Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon. According to him, “we’re entering a whole new era of space and we’re positioning ourselves to deliver reliable, low-cost propulsion technologies”.
Relativity Space and Impulse Space are inspired by SpaceX
Together, the two companies aim to go to Mars. This idea was born last year when Relativity Space VP Engineering Zach Dunn reached out to Tom Mueller. The two men were former colleagues at SpaceX. The boss of Impulse Space had also hired Dunn at SpaceX in 2006. At the time, as an intern, Zach Dunn was quickly responsible for testing the engines, then the global propulsion system for the company’s first Falcon rockets. Relativity Space will strike with its first Terran-R missionand Impulse Space agreed to join the party.
To date, NASA and the Chinese Space Agency are the only two entities that have successfully completed a mission to Mars. The two companies do not hide their admiration for Elon Musk. According to Tim Ellis, co-founder of Relativity Space, “Elon Musk wants humanity to become a multiplanetary species. This trade mission would help move things forward. We’re big SpaceX and Starship fans. But I think there must be more companies working on this project. I want to be the second company to stand up and say it’s important. Hopefully there will be many more”.