Relativity Space: launch 3D printed rocket

Relativity Space has just announced the first test launch of the Terran 1 rocket, printed for 85% of its mass in 3D.
The Relativity Space Terran 1 rocket undergoing some pre-launch tests. Credit: Relativity Space

The company Relativity Space is ready to launch the world’s first 3D-printed rocket as early as next March. US company claims to have acquired the necessary licenses for the launch of its Terran 1 rocket to attempt its orbital debut on March 8.

The launch test

Company officials confirmed on Twitter (ref.) Wednesday, February 22, that the launch will proceed from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Florida’s Space Coast. The mission is called GLHF (Good Luck, Have Fun) and will be a true test launch of the 33-meter 3D-printed rocket before it flies with payloads from future customers.

Terran 1, printed for approximately 85% of its total mass in 3D, has been described by the company as “the largest 3D-printed object ever made that attempts orbital flight.” Relativity Space plans to increase 3D printing on Terran 1 rockets up to 95% of its mass. Additive manufacturing is also used for the nine Aeon engines on the first stage of the rocket and the Aeon Vac engine on the second stage.

In line with environmental sustainability, Relativity Space will also use liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas to power Terran 1. If the rocket reaches space, it will be the first to do so with natural gas fuel and will be the key to using methane for Mars and planned missions to the Red Planet by the company.

Relativity Space vs SpaceX

Relativity Space was co-founded by Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone in 2015 after working respectively at Blue Origin and SpaceX. The small payload rocket can send up to 1,250 kilograms of payloads into low Earth orbit. But Relativity Space is already working on a larger booster.

The Terran R, unveiled in 2021, is a much larger booster at 66 meters tall and 4.9 meters in diameter. This rocket can send nearly 25 times the payload mass of Terran 1 into space. So we’re talking about approximately 20,000 kg of payload that can be sent into low Earth orbit.

The capacity of Terran R is approaching that of SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Elon Musk’s company regularly sends large payloads into space for NASA, the security industry. In addition, for nearly 10 years, it has been working on building its own constellation of satellites (Starlink).

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