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Relativity Space's focus on 3D printing and cloud-based software helps it weather the COVID-19 storm

Added 04-07-20 03:04:02pm EST - “Just like in almost every other industry, there's been a rash of layoffs among newer space startups and companies amid the novel coronavirus crisis. Relativity CEO and founder Tim Ellis cites the company's focus on large-scale…” - News.yahoo.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From News.yahoo.com: “Relativity Space's focus on 3D printing and cloud-based software helps it weather the COVID-19 storm”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Just like in almost every other industry, there's been a rash of layoffs among newer space startups and companies amid the novel coronavirus crisis. But Relativity Space has managed to avoid layoffs – and is even hiring, despite the global pandemic. Relativity CEO and founder Tim Ellis cites the company's focus on large-scale 3D printing, as well as its adoption of cloud-based tools and technologies as big reasons why his startup hasn't felt the pinch.

Because Relativity's forthcoming launch vehicle is almost entirely made up of 3D-printed parts, from the engines, to the fuselage and everything in between, the company has been able to continue producing its prototypes essentially uninterrupted. Relativity has been classified an essential business, as have most companies operating in anything related to aerospace or defense, but Ellis said that they took steps very early to address the potential thread of COVID-19 and ensure the health and safety of their staff. As early as March 9, when the disease was really first starting to show up in the U.S. and before any formal restrictions or shelter-in-place orders were in effect, Relativity was recommending that employees work from home where possible.

"We're able to do that, partially because with our automated printing technology we were able to have very, very few people in the factory and still keep printers running," Ellis said in an interview. "We actually even have just one person now running several printers that are still actually printing – it's literally a single person operating, while a lot of company has been able to make progress working from home for the last couple of weeks."

Being able to run an entire production factory floor with just one person on-site is a tremendous competitive advantage in the current situation, and way to ensure you're also respecting employee health and safety. Ellis added that the company has already been operating between multiple locations, including teams at Cape Canaveral, Florida, as well as at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and at its headquarters in LA. Relativity also had a further distributed workforce with a few employees working remotely from locations across the U.S, and it focused early on ensuring that its design and development processes could work without requiring everyone to be centrally-based.

"We've developed our own custom software tools to just streamline those workflows, that that really helped," Ellis said. "Also, just being more of a cloud-enabled company, while still complying with ITAR and security protocols has been really, really advantageous as well."

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