Relativity Signs Telesat, Eyes Polar Launch Site

Jeff Foust, for SpaceNews:

The contract covers the launch of an unspecified number of Telesat LEO satellites on Relativity’s Terran 1 launch vehicle, starting no earlier than 2021. The companies declined to disclose the terms of the contract.

In an interview, Tim Ellis, chief executive of Relativity, said the contract is the first customer for the Terran 1 that the company has announced. He said Relativity previously signed a contract with another customer that has yet to be announced.

Good to hear them signing customers, but I’m ready for this era of extreme secrecy of space projects to be over.

Relativity says they’re aiming for the end of 2020 for their first launch, and of note to me was this nugget at the end:

The company, which announced in January an initial agreement with the U.S. Air Force to develop a launch facility at Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, is working through the environmental review process and building permits for that facility. Ellis added that Relativity is in “pretty close to final stages” of identifying a West Coast launch site that would allow Terran 1 to launch missions to polar orbits.

My bet is on SLC-3W. Nothing has happened there since Falcon 1 stood ready to launch back in 2005.

The dwindling supply of polar-accessible launch sites is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and something that is going to be a real issue given the ratio of new launch providers to available pads.