Worldâs 1st 3D-printed rocket to launch from Cape Canaveral
Watch the livestream here for the first 3D-printed rocket launch.
World’s 1st 3D-printed rocket to launch from Cape Canaveral
Terran 1 – the world’s first 3D-printed rocket – will attempt its inaugural flight at 1 p.m. (18:00 UTC) on Wednesday (March 8, 2023). It will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Base on Florida’s Atlantic coast.
Watch it here or with the video player embedded above.
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‘Good Luck, Have Fun’
Relativity Space, a Long Beach, California-based company, designed the two-stage expendable Terran 1 launch vehicle. It can carry a maximum payload of 2,760 pounds (1,250 kg) to low-Earth orbit (LEO) at 115 miles (185 km). The spacecraft is also rated to carry up to 2,000 pounds (900 kg) to higher sun-synchronous orbits.
For the maiden voyage – dubbed Good Luck, Have Fun – the Terran 1 will not carry a customer payload. However, that is the intended future use for the craft.
Most remarkably, the majority of the Terran 1 – 85% of the rocket flying Wednesday – was printed. The company claims it can “build” launch vehicles – either the Terran 1 or the reusable Terran R that’s still in development – at a breakneck speed:
Relativity’s proprietary Factory of the Future centers on Stargate, the world’s largest metal 3D printers, that create Terran 1, the world’s first 3D-printed rocket, and the first fully reusable, entirely 3D-printed rocket, Terran R, from raw material to flight in 60 days.
The Wall Street Journal even reported the company intends to eventually rival SpaceX.
Biggest 3D-print job ever (so far)
When you own the world’s largest metal 3D printer, you naturally make the world’s biggest 3D-printed item:
As a two-stage, 110 foot-tall (300 meter), 7.5 foot-wide (2.3 meter), expendable rocket, Terran 1 is the largest 3D-printed object to exist and to attempt orbital flight. Working toward its goal of being 95% 3D-printed, Relativity’s first Terran 1 vehicle is 85% 3D-printed by mass. Terran 1 has nine Aeon engines on its first stage, and one Aeon Vac on its second stage.
The Terran R will, of course, be larger, as it’s intended as a medium-lift vehicle. It is capable of carrying up to 44,092 pounds (20,000 kg) to LEO. Unlike the smaller, expendable Terran 1, both stages of the Terran R will be reusable.
3D-printed rocket: simpler manufacturing, more reliability
And yes, the engines are 3D-printed too.
Like its structure, all Relativity engines are 3D printed and use liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid natural gas (LNG), which are not only the best for rocket propulsion, but also for reusability, and the easiest to eventually transition to methane on Mars.
Relativity said the process uses an array of metal alloys designed specifically for 3D printing its rocketship bodies. Using a combination of the latest design and construction technology means the final product has 100 times fewer parts than a conventional spacecraft:
By fusing 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and autonomous robotics, Relativity is printing its rockets’ structure and engines, significantly reducing touch points and lead times, simplifying the supply chain, and increasing overall system reliability.
Fewer moving parts means fewer things can go wrong, so the company aims to simplify the manufacturing process and the final product. Here’s what printing a rocket looks like in action:
Bottom line: Relativity Space will launch the world’s first 3D-printed rocket on March 8, 2023, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Base in Florida.