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Relativity's 3D printer. Photo: Relativity Space

Relativity Space, a venture-backed rocket company, just raised $140 million to fund its plan to 3D print its rockets.

Why it matters: The company is working to break into an increasingly crowded launch industry by sending relatively small satellites to orbit. This funding round puts Relativity on track to launch its first rocket — called Terran 1 — by 2021.

The state of play: 5 new investors and a number of previous funders are now backing the company, which has so far announced a handful of commercial customers for rides to space aboard Terran-1.

  • Relativity hopes to be able to 3D print rockets in 60 days and tailor them to the specific needs of their small and medium satellite customers.

But, but, but: While the funding round is expected to help Relativity get up and running, the long-term sustainability for small satellite launchers is still very much an open question.

  • Dozens of companies are still working to get their rockets flying, and it's not yet clear which companies will end up coming out ahead in the burgeoning industry.
  • "The business plans of a lot of these companies launching satellites is untested and is largely driven by venture funding, which is typically focused on high-risk and high-reward opportunities," Manny Shar, head of analytics for Bryce Space and Technology, told Axios via email.
  • "The potential for failure is significant, while the potential for success is largely unproven."

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

Map: A look at world population density in 3D

This fascinating map is made by Alasdair Rae of Sheffield, England, a former professor of urban studies who is the founder of Automatic Knowledge. It shows world population density in 3D.

Details: "No land is shown on the map, only the locations where people actually live. ... The higher the spike, the more people live in an area. Where there are no spikes, there are no people (e.g. you can clearly identify ... the Sahara Desert)."

Biden's Day 1 challenges: The immigration reset

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President-elect Biden has an aggressive Day 1 immigration agenda that relies heavily on executive actions to undo President Trump's crackdown.

Why it matters: It's not that easy. Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration. Advocates are fired up. The Supreme Court could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and experts warn there could be another surge at the border.

13 hours ago - Sports

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with all Denver Broncos quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.