Relativity Space disclosed the news Thursday, noting that the U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Unit had granted it a statement to use Launch Complex 16. The announcement made Relativity Space the fourth aerospace company to be allowed to launch rockets at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base. The other three companies are SpaceX, Blue Origin and ULA.
Before Relativity Space came to take over, LC-16 launchers were used for Apollo and Gemini missions, as well as for launching Titan and Pan Hing missiles. Launch Complex is one of the last major facilities in Cape Canaveral, and Relativity says it will work with the U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Unit to update it with modern launch facilities.
Relativity plans to use LC-16 to launch Terran 1, the world's first fully 3D-printed rocket. Assuming everything goes according to plan, Relativity will complete its first full launch by the end of next year; the company is expected to launch payloads for both government and private companies.
The U.S. Air Force has given the aerospace company the opportunity to extend its LC-16 use to 20 years, and this is the exclusive use. Talking about the new agreement is Tim Ellis, chief executive of Relativity, who said:
We are honored to be able to win the strong support of the US Air Force and to join a selected private space company for the launch at Cape Canaveral. Implementing an exclusive use protocol on LC-16 ensures that our satellite customers can gain more schedule certainty and enable us to launch more frequently.