Relativity space, a start-up founded in Seattle and currently building a 3D printing rocket in Southern California, hired a Microsoft executive to lead its growing software engineering team and expand its artificial intelligence driven “factory operating system”
As vice president of the company, Scott Van Vliet leads the team of Microsoft team collaboration platform. As senior vice president of software engineering, he will supervise more than 150 employees of relativity’s integrated software and additional manufacturing team. He will be stationed in the Los Angeles area.
Before he worked at Microsoft for four years, Van Vliet played a leading role in the development of Amazon echo device and Alexa voice assistant platform. He told geekwire that he is looking forward to helping relativistic space company completely change the industrial application of 3D metal printing, just as he helped Microsoft and Amazon explore the path of cooperative software and artificial intelligence assistant.
Van van relativity has become Scott, senior vice president of Microsoft Vliet software. (pictures via Twitter)
Van Vliet said, “considering where our Stargate series printers will go and the cross stack technology we are building, we can apply similar machine learning models to change the way we conduct predictive modeling, predictive printing, and build the products we will build.”.
Relativity space’s first large-scale product, the Terran 1 rocket, will be launched for the first time this year. The company is already developing a more powerful and fully reusable rocket called the Terran R.
Tim Ellis, senior CEO of Jeff Bezos blue origin space venture, said that software will be the key to the future of relativity space and the launch industry. He co founded the company in a cooperative space in Seattle in 2015.
“Scott is the most senior employee in the software industry,” Ellis told geekwire. “This makes me very excited, because I believe in Andreessen Horowitz’s famous saying ‘software is swallowing the world’… Everything that relativity does to turn manufacturing into more software and data-driven methods is inevitable. We are just the furthest away.”
Relativity believes that automation and 3D printing will greatly reduce the cost of building rockets, thus greatly reducing the cost of entering space.
The plant operating system is a key concept in the relativistic approach: Van Vliet said he and his team will work to improve the capability of a software platform that weaves together all the processes of making rockets from piles of metal powder. He compared FOS with the platforms provided by Microsoft Windows, Microsoft team or Amazon Alexa voice assistant software.
Van Vliet said, “frankly, this will be a platform that enables us to achieve something we haven’t even thought of – the ability that engineers and designers in our team will begin to release when considering an end-to-end integration experience that can be applied to any purpose.”. “This is the most exciting thing for me: building this platform will accelerate the vision of Terran 1 and Terran R and other industries.”
Ellis acknowledges that the operating system in his and Van Vliet’s mind can be more widely used in other manufacturing markets, such as aircraft, trains and cars. But at least for now, he insists that everything relativistic space does will focus on building the infrastructure needed to reach Mars and eventually develop industry on the red planet.
Like SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Ellis likes to say that the long-term goal of relativistic space is to make humans a multi planetary species. “We are still the second company in the world with the core mission of realizing human multi planet,” he said. “I really hope there are more. I hope we can inspire dozens to hundreds of companies to pursue these ambitious plans.”
But unlike musk, Ellis has no plans to build a satellite.
“We see an opportunity to redouble our efforts on our own platform and create our own better end products,” Ellis said. He said that additional manufacturing focusing on software optimization is “an investment in this approach”.
Ellis said that relativistic space’s fourth generation Starbase 3D printer has theoretically been able to build a Terran 1 rocket in six days and a Terran r rocket in 30 days.
“There are other parts of the factory process – downstream processing, machining, inspection – in fact, Scott and his team will be responsible for achieving this speed,” Ellis said.
Relativity seems to have the required funds: last June, Terran R obtained $650 million of E-series financing, with a total investment of more than $1.3 billion and a total valuation of more than $4 billion.
The company now has more than 600 employees, about twice as many as a year ago. These workers work not only at their headquarters in Long Beach, California: they also have teams working in Washington, D.C.; NASA’s Stannis Space Center in Mississippi; Vandenberg space force base in California; At the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida, and even in Kent, Washington., Not far from Lanyuan headquarters. (relativity says its Seattle regional office has four employees.)
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we were at a level slightly above 100,” Ellis said. “I believe that we are the fastest growing listed company in history, both in terms of the growth in the number of employees and the growth rate during this period.”
Relativity is still growing: its career website lists more than 100 job openings. “This is an investment to hire more software engineers, data scientists, computer vision, machine learning,” Ellis said. “It’s really a way to double your investment in a very different type of team, which has never existed in the aerospace field before and has reached this level now.”
Van Vliet said that he has always dreamed of working in the aerospace industry and he can’t wait to join it.
“I certainly have a lot to learn. I want to participate in the work of the company and start working, but I think I have an incredible footprint,” he said. “This is the most exciting thing for me – I have experience in scaling up and leading large teams, and there are already a series of incredible assets.”