Elon Musk’s friend and a top SpaceX engineer has left the company to join a fast-growing rival rocket startup

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Relativity Space, founded in 2015, has hired away Zach Dunn: a 13-year employee of SpaceX, a senior engineer, and a former vice president.
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, praised Dunn, called him a friend, and wished him luck on Twitter.
Dunn will stand up a new factory development division for Relativity Space, which aims to 3D-print orbital-class rockets with 99% fewer parts, in days instead of a year.
Relativity hopes to launch its first 95-foot-tall Terran 1 rocket in 2021.
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A startup that aims to 3D-print entire rockets with fewer parts, in days instead of months or years, has picked off a top engineer from SpaceX.

Zach Dunn, the now-former senior vice president of production and launch for SpaceX, started out as an intern at SpaceX 13 years ago and most recently reported directly to Elon Musk, the company’s founder. But as of June 8, Dunn — whom Musk considers a friend — will start his new job at Relativity Space.

“Zach made a significant contribution to SpaceX,” Musk tweeted on Monday. “I wish him well as he tries something new.”

Relativity Space is a venture capital-backed rocket company founded in 2015 by Jordan Noone and Tim Ellis, who are former employees of SpaceX and Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos’ rocket company), respectively. The startup has already secured a launch site in Florida and raised more than $184 million, according to Pitchbook. The source of that cash includes former Walt Disney executive Michael Ovitz and even Jared Leto (the “30 Seconds to Mars” rock star and Academy Award-winning Joker in “Batman”).

The company’s first main goal is to 3D-print a rocket within 60 days of a customer’s order to launch a payload into orbit. Called Terran 1, that rocket will ostensibly stand about 95 feet tall, have 10 engines, and be capable of launching a small- to medium-size satellite or other payload into space for about $10 million. The largest size that a payload can be is about 2,750 pounds (1,250 kilograms), or roughly one Fiat 500 hatchback’s worth of mass.

Relativity says the typical lead time for ordering a launch vehicle is about 12 to 18 months, and that Terran 1 will decrease the complexity of a rocket by having 99% fewer parts, since they can be seamlessly integrated into a larger part using proprietary “Stargate” 3D printers.

Dunn will stand up and run Relativity’s ‘factory of the future’

To create such an unprecedented capability, Relativity needs a mastermind to build out and run its “factory of the future” — a 120,000-square-foot facility in Long Beach, California.

Dunn was announced as that person this week.

“Zach brings immense creativity, audacity, and leadership to a critical piece of Relativity’s company vision. He will be instrumental in our goal of developing the factory of the future using large-scale 3D printing,” Ellis said in statement emailed to Business Insider.

Relativity knew of Dunn’s accomplishments at …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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