Impulse and Relativity Space to launch first commercial Mars mission in 2026

The firms claim they want to set up a "constant supply chain to Mars" by sending missions every 26 months.
Chris Young
An artist's impression of Impulse Space's Mars Lander.
An artist's impression of Impulse Space's Mars Lander.

Impulse Space / YouTube 

Two private space companies, Impulse Space and Relativity Space, recently announced that their private Mars mission is now expected to launch sometime in 2026, a report from SpaceNews reveals.

Good things come to those who wait, the saying goes, and the two firms announced the delay to the mission at the Humans to Mars Summit, held in Washington DC from May 16 to May 18.

They clearly won't want to rush what may well go down as the first-ever commercial robotic Mars lander mission.

Relativity Space and Impulse Space aim to launch a commercial Mars mission in 2026

Speaking during the Humans to Mars Summit, executives from both Impulse Space and Relativity Space stated that the mission, initially slated for next year, would now launch in 2026.

Though they didn't disclose the exact reason behind the delays, they did suggest it might be related to Relativity Space's decision to discontinue the Terran-1 rocket in favor of turning all attention on the development of its next-generation Terran-R rocket, which is expected to debut in 2026.

Relativity Space performed a successful first flight of Terran-1 in March, though the company's 3D-printed rocket failed to reach orbit. Much like SpaceX's Starship, which failed to reach orbit on its first attempt, the maiden launch allowed the rocket's engineers to collect valuable information.

Terran-R is also designed to be 3D printed, though it will have a higher payload capacity of 33.5 metric tons to orbit. Relativity Space aims to leverage these capabilities for its private Mars mission, initially announced in July last year. Impulse Space, meanwhile, will contribute its Mars Cruise Vehicle and Mars Lander for the upcoming commercial Mars mission.

Building a "constant supply chain to Mars"

The two firms aim to eventually develop a "constant supply chain to Mars," Josh Brost, senior vice president of revenue operations at Relativity Space, explained at the summit. To do so, the companies will aim to launch a mission every 26 months to coincide with the launch window for sending missions to Mars.

"By making transport to Mars more affordable, you open up that iteration loop that can lead to advancements that just could not have been envisioned previously," Brost said, according to the SpaceNews piece.

While Relativity Space and Impulse Space would make history by sending the first commercial mission to Mars, they may not be the first private companies to send a mission to another planet. That's because Rocket Lab recently announced a self-funded mission to Venus, due to launch at some point this year. The mission will investigate whether microbial life might be hiding in our planetary neighbor's upper atmosphere.

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