Leading 3D-printed rocket company Relativity Space has broken ground on a new vertical test stand at the A-2 complex located at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. In October 2022, Relativity announced a large $267 million expansion at Stennis that will create 630 jobs. The new test stand, part of the larger expansion, will support advanced vertical stage testing for Terran R, the company’s medium-to-heavy lift reusable rocket.
The entire project, which includes several new engine test stands, a full-scale second stage stand, office buildings and a vehicle hangar, will enable the company to increase its testing, increase the speed of iterative learning cycles and shorten speed to market. Originally designed to withstand a maximum thrust of 1.5 million pounds, the A-2 test stand is being upgraded by Relativity to accommodate thrust of more than 3 million pounds, positioning it at the forefront of America’s commercial space program. The expansion brings Relativity’s total footprint at the site to nearly 300 acres, making it the largest commercial presence at Stennis.
Relativity also has 10-year leases for the E-2 and E-4 stands and has commercial use agreements for the E-1 site with continued improvements in the R-Complex for new engine and stage test infrastructure.
The Mississippi Development Authority is providing assistance for infrastructure improvements. MDA also is providing assistance through the Aerospace Initiative Incentives Program, which provides tax incentives to companies that locate or expand in Mississippi and manufacture, assemble or process products, components or systems for the aerospace industry or provide research and development or training services for the sector. Hancock County and Stennis Space Center also are assisting with the project.
Since forming in 2016, Relativity has operated multiple production, test and launch sites across the United States. Relativity employs over 1,000 people across the United States and is actively hiring in the Gulf Coast region as its presence continues to grow.
“Mississippi’s economy is growing stronger every day thanks to Stennis Space Center and companies like Relativity. Our state is at the forefront of innovation, and we are helping to lead the way in commercial space technology. Congratulations to Relativity on this historic groundbreaking.” – Gov. Tate Reeves
“Unwavering support from all levels of government contributes greatly to the ongoing growth and success of the aerospace industry in Mississippi. We are here to help propel Relativity Space to new heights with its innovative technology and Mississippi’s talented workforce.”– MDA Deputy Executive Director Laura Hipp
“New history is being written at Stennis Space Center as we breathe life into the historic A-2 Test Stand with our Terran R program. We appreciate the support from NASA and the state of Mississippi and look forward to continuing to build out our team and testing infrastructure here in the Gulf Coast. The scale of Terran R as a medium-heavy lift reusable launch vehicle is substantial. Exclusive access to these rare, national-asset facilities through partnership with NASA uniquely enables Relativity to develop a world-class launch vehicle. Together with our significant private capital commitments to reinvigorate these facilities, we are building innovative capabilities to solidify America’s leadership in space.” – Relativity Co-Founder and CEO Tim Ellis
“We applaud Relativity Space in announcing this expanded agreement. Since arriving on site in 2016, the company has grown into a valued member of the NASA Stennis community. This increased footprint is a testament to Relativity’s continued progress in the commercial space arena. It also is a testament to the value of NASA Stennis and our test complex infrastructure in supporting commercial space endeavors. We look forward to an ongoing relationship with Relativity team members as they work to achieve their space goals.” – Dr. Rick Gilbrech, Director, NASA’s Stennis Space Center
“Port and Harbor welcomes the continued expansion and growth of Relativity Space in Hancock County at Stennis Space Center. The Relativity agreement marks the second announcement over the last year. This announcement for the A test stands at Stennis Space Center will capture new investment to support commercial space programs. HCPHC is committed to supporting Relativity’s efforts in Hancock County” – Blaine LaFontaine, CEO, Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission
“Over the last 60 years, Hancock County has continued to show our workforce supports federal and commercial space programs. The new agreement will grant this critical infrastructure new life and add new jobs and assessed value.” – Scotty Adam, President, Hancock County Board of Supervisors
About Mississippi Development Authority
Mississippi Development Authority is the state’s lead economic and community development agency. MDA focuses on new business recruitment, existing business expansion, workforce training, and tourism promotion. For more information, visit MDA’s website at www.mississippi.org.
About NASA’s Stennis Space Center
Stennis Space Center, located near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, is a federal city operated by NASA since 1961. More than 40 onsite agencies, organizations, universities, and companies share operating costs, while pursuing individual missions, as a model of fiscal efficiency. If their combined workforces of more than 5,000 employees were counted as a single entity, Stennis would rank among the Top 10 Mississippi companies in size. The site is a major economic engine for the Gulf Coast region, with an average direct annual impact of more than $625 million within a 50-mile radius. For information about Stennis Space Center, visit: www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis/.
Tammy Craft Dudley
MDA Public Relations Bureau Manager