Misc: Relativity Space hires former SpaceX exec as adviser + Chuck Beames leads York Systems efforts to offer turnkey smallsat systems

NewSpace Watch
August 20, 2018

Tim Buzza is now advising Relativity Space. Buzza was the fifth employee at SpaceX and was instrumental in various projects including the Falcon 1 and the launch sites at Kwajalein and Vandenberg during his 12 years there.

The Quartz article says the company has

also brought onboard Chris Newton, a launch operations engineer who worked at Virgin Orbit and SpaceX, who helped set up the company’s launchpads and was also involved in the robotic barge where its rockets land at sea. Relativity also hired James Harris, a former engineer at Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car company who spent eight years at Blue Origin, leading testing for its New Shepard rocket.

Relativity is also making progress with its 3D printing of large structures. From Ars Technica:

Relativity also says that it has made significant progress toward its goal of printing an entire rocket, from the engines up to the payload fairing, with its “Stargate” 3D printer. Ellis said the company recently printed its first materials that passed the most stringent specification for fusion-welded materials in the aerospace industry, a standard known as AWS D17.1 Class A.

The significance of this, Ellis said, is that it demonstrates that the 3D printing process it is using for its engines and rockets meets the highest quality level of the aerospace industry. “So many people question or ask us if 3D printed materials are strong enough,” said. “This gives our customers the highest confidence that it is.”


Chuck Beames, formerly the head of Stratolaunch, is now chief of York Space Systems, which is developing a standardized smallsat platform that can be customized for different applicatons: ​After Stratolaunch, Chuck Beames raises his sights to York satellites – GeekWire

York’s S-class satellite can carry instrument payloads weighing as much as 85 kilograms (187 pounds), for a total mass of 160 kilograms (352 pounds), Beames said.

That capacity on the small side when compared with, say, NASA’s 6.5-ton James Webb Space Telescope. But it’s heftier than the typical CubeSat range of 12 kilograms (26 pounds) for a satellite the size of a shipping box.

“The CubeSat is great,” Beames said. “But it’s very much geared toward academic research. That’s where it came from. So there ends up being inherent limitations in the design.”​

Beames said York is targeting a different sort of sweet spot: “low-cost, industrial-grade, meaning a very predictable design life.”

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