US Aerospace Firm Relativity Space to Make Third Attempt to Launch 3D-Printed Rocket

Last Update: March 23, 2023, 03:54 am

Relativity Space's 3D-printed rocket Terran 1 launches on December 7, 2022, on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.  (Image: Reuters)

Relativity Space’s 3D-printed rocket Terran 1 launches on December 7, 2022, on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (Image: Reuters)

A second attempt was made on 11 March because of fuel pressure problems.

The world’s first 3D-printed rocket is set to make its third attempt to take off on Wednesday for the maiden flight of an innovative spacecraft meant to be less expensive to produce and fly.

The unmanned rocket, Terran 1, was scheduled to launch on March 8 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, but was postponed at the last minute due to propellant temperature issues.

A second attempt was made on 11 March because of fuel pressure problems.

Relativity Space, the private aerospace startup in California that built the rocket, is hoping the third time’s the charm.

The company’s three-hour launch window begins at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday (0200 GMT Thursday).

Once in flight, Terran 1 is set to reach low Earth orbit after an eight-minute journey that aims to collect data and demonstrate how well a 3D-printed rocket can withstand the rigors of liftoff and space flight. Could

If the rocket succeeds in achieving low Earth orbit, it will be the first privately funded vehicle to use methane fuel on its first attempt, according to Relativity.

Terran 1 will not be carrying a payload for its first flight, but the rocket will eventually be able to put up to 2,755 pounds (1,250 kg) into low Earth orbit.

The rocket is 110 feet (33.5 m) tall with a diameter of 7.5 feet (2.2 m).

Eighty-five percent of its mass is 3D printed with metal alloys, including nine Aeon 1 engines in the first stage and one Aeon vacuum engine in the second stage.

According to the Long Beach-based company, it is the largest 3D-printed object ever made, and was made with the world’s largest 3D metal printer.

built in 60 days

Relativity aims to build a rocket that is 95 percent 3D printed.

Terran 1 is powered by engines using liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas – “the propellant of the future”, capable of eventually fueling travel to Mars, says Relativity.

SpaceX’s Starship and Vulcan rockets being developed by United Launch Alliance use the same fuel.

Relativity is also building a larger rocket, the Terran R, capable of putting a payload of 44,000 pounds (20,000 kg) into low Earth orbit.

The first launch of the Terran R, which is designed to be fully reusable, is scheduled for next year.

A satellite operator can wait years for a spot on an Arianespace or SpaceX rocket, and Relativity Space hopes to accelerate that timeline with its 3D-printed rocket.

Relativity said its 3D-printed rocket uses 100 times fewer parts than conventional rockets and can be made from raw materials in just 60 days.

Relativity has signed commercial launch contracts worth $1.65 billion, mostly for the Terran R, according to CEO Tim Ellis, who co-founded the company in 2015.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)