Relativity first 3D-printed Terran 1 rocket launch

3D-printing specialist Relativity Space is attempting its first rocket launch on Saturday, a mission that marks the most significant test yet of the company’s ambitious manufacturing approach.

The company’s Terran 1 rocket is launching from LC-16, a launchpad at the U.S. Space Force’s facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The mission is called “Good Luck, Have Fun,” and aims to successfully reach orbit. Relativity has a window between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET to launch, or postpone as it did after an attempt earlier this week. The company said that a ground equipment valve malfunctioned during Wednesday’s attempt, which affected the temperature of the propellant that was being pumped into the rocket, but has since fixed the valve issue.

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While many space companies utilize 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, Relativity has effectively gone all-in on the approach. The company believes its approach will make building orbital-class rockets much faster than traditional methods, requiring thousands less parts and enabling changes to be made via software. The Long Beach, California-based venture aims to create rockets from raw materials in as little as 60 days.

Terran 1 stands 110 feet high, with nine engines powering the lower first stage, and one engine powering the upper second stage. Its Aeon engines are 3D-printed, with the rocket using liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas as its two fuel types. The company says that 85% of this first Terran 1 rocket was 3D-printed.

The company’s Terran 1 rocket stands on its launchpad at LC-16 in Cape Canaveral, Florida ahead of the inaugural launch attempt.

Trevor Mahlmann / Relativity Space

Relativity prices Terran 1 at $12 million per launch. It’s designed to carry about 1,250 kilograms to low Earth orbit. That puts Terran 1 in the “medium lift” section of the U.S. launch market, between Rocket Lab’s Electron and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in both price and capability.

Wednesday’s debut for Terran 1 is not carrying a payload or satellite inside the rocket. The company emphasized the launch represents a prototype.

In a series of tweets before the mission, Ellis shared his expectations for the mission: He noted that reaching a milestone of maximum aerodynamic pressure about 80 seconds after liftoff would be a “key inflection” point for proving the company’s technology.

The exterior of “The Wormhole” factory.

Relativity Space

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