Former SpaceX Founding Member Leads Company That Seeks To Beat Elon Musk To Mars | JP
Two startup space companies, including one led by a founding member of Elon Musk‘s SpaceX, have announced plans to launch the first commercial space lander to Mars by 2024.
Impulse Space, led by former SpaceX member Tom Mueller, and Relativity Space made the announcement Tuesday.
“This is a major milestone for both Impulse and Relativity, as well as the entire space industry,” Impulse Space founder and CEO Mueller said. “One of the most challenging aspects of landing on Mars is the ‘glide stage,’ which involves an aeroshell to encapsulate the lander for the survival of Mars entry. With the power of our combined teams, experience and passion, I am confident this historic mission will be just one of many to come.”
Impulse is excited to announce our partnership with @relativityspace to deliver our Mars Cruise Vehicle and Mars Lander on Relativity’s fully reusable, entirely 3D printed launch vehicle – Terran R! pic.twitter.com/KCVlP6PqW0
— Impulse Space (@GoToImpulse) July 19, 2022
The new partnership plans to launch Impulse’s Mars Cruise Vehicle and Mars Lander from Cape Canaveral, Florida, sometime in 2024. The exclusive arrangement is scheduled until 2029, according to the announcement’s press release.
The Terran R rocket will be exclusively 3D printed through Relativity’s proprietary printing process in an effort to disrupt the industry and shorten the timeline necessary to reach Mars.
Impulse Space plans to utilize an integrated cruise vehicle, entry capsule, and Mars lander aboard the Terran R launch vehicle. The trip through interplanetary space will last over half a year, with the goal of deploying the first commercial device to the surface of another planet.
“We believe building a multiplanetary future on Mars is only possible if we inspire dozens to hundreds of companies to work toward a singular goal,” Tim Ellis, co-founder and CEO of Relativity Space, said.
“This is a monumental challenge, but one that successfully achieved will expand the possibilities for human experience in our lifetime across two planets. With the delivery capabilities of Terran R coupled with Impulse’s in-space transportation, we are bringing humanity one step closer to making Mars a reality. This is a historic, impactful partnership with Tom and the entire Impulse team through the collaboration of two low-cost commercial providers that will establish and expand our presence on Mars,” he added.
It is important to note that neither company has yet launched a rocket into space.
Mueller’s company was founded in 2021. Relativity Space, the second company involved in the unique partnership, has invented a new approach to designing and flying its own 3D rockets. The entrepreneurial effort claims to disrupt 60 years of aerospace design, offering “a radically simplified supply chain, building a rocket with 100x fewer parts in less than 60 days.”
Relativity was launched in 2015 and has raised more than $1 billion to date.
“This is a whole new era of spaceflight, and we want to be positioned to provide reliable, low-cost, in-space propulsion,” Mueller said in an interview with Ars Technica.
In contrast, SpaceX founder Musk said in a Time magazine article in December that he hopes to reach the Moon by 2023 and expressed a goal of humans reaching the red planet by the end of the decade, though the timeline is considered tentative. Musk has also envisioned a city on Mars by 2050.