UNITED STATES: Relativity Space, a California-based aerospace company, successfully launched the world’s first 3D-printed rocket, Terran 1, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday.
Although the rocket failed to reach orbit due to an anomaly during second-stage separation, the launch demonstrated that the 85% 3D-printed rocket could withstand the rigors of lift-off.
Relativity Space’s Terran 1
The Terran 1 is capable of launching up to 2,755 pounds (1,250 kilogrammes) into low-Earth orbit and is advertised as being less expensive to construct and fly.
According to Relativity Space, the rocket is propelled by liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas, the propellants of the future, and is 110 feet (33.5 metres) tall with a diameter of 7.5 feet (2.2 metres).
Eighty-five percent of Terran 1’s mass is made of metal alloys that were 3D printed, including the one Aeon Vacuum engine and the nine Aeon 1 engines utilised in the first stage. The largest 3D metal printers in the world were used to create the largest 3D-printed item ever.
The ultimate objective of Relativity is to create a rocket that is 95% 3D printed. The Terran R, a bigger rocket being built by the same company, can launch a payload weighing up to 44,000 pounds (20,000 kg) into low-Earth orbit.
The maiden launch of Terran R, a completely reusable spacecraft, is planned for the following year. Relativity’s rockets can be constructed from raw materials in only 60 days and require 100 times less parts than conventional rockets thanks to 3D printing technology.
According to CEO Tim Ellis, who also co-founded the business in 2015, the organisation has agreements for $1.65 billion in commercial launch contracts, principally for the Terran R.
A successful launch of Terran 1 would have marked the first privately funded vehicle using methane fuel to reach low-Earth orbit on its first try, according to Relativity.
While the rocket’s failure to reach orbit was disappointing, the launch represented a significant milestone in the development of 3D-printed rockets and the potential to revolutionize the aerospace industry with more efficient and cost-effective production methods.
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