Relativity Space’s 3D-Printed Terran 1 Rocket Read to Attempt Historic Launch

Relativity Space’s Terran 1, the world’s first 3D-printed rocket, is set to launch. This innovative launch marks a milestone for space exploration technology.

Today marks an exciting moment in space exploration as Relativity Space’s Terran 1 rocket, the world’s first 3D-printed launcher, is scheduled to take off for the first time. Standing tall at 110 feet (33 meters), Terran 1 is expected to lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida during a three-hour window that opens at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT).

This will be the second attempt for Terran 1, as the previous try on Wednesday (March 8) was canceled due to fuel-temperature issues on the rocket’s upper stage. As such, the upcoming launch is highly anticipated and marks a significant milestone for Relativity Space and spaceflight technology in general.

Terran 1 is a two-stage rocket and is the first ever rocket to be built primarily via 3D printing, which is a groundbreaking achievement. The first Terran 1 rocket is about 85% 3D-printed by mass, but Relativity Space aims to increase that to 95% on future rockets.

Relativity Space representatives told a news agency,

“As for flight success, safely clearing the pad, getting out over the ocean, and passing Max-Q would be a big inflection point for today’s launch,”

He added more,

“Max-Q is the point where the structural loads on the vehicle are the highest, making it one of the most challenging phases of flight, so passing this milestone would effectively demonstrate that 3D-printed rockets are structurally viable, in addition to already successfully completing acceptance testing on the ground at our factory at these max stresses.”

Even if the Terran 1 rocket reaches Low Earth Orbit (LEO), it won’t release any payload. Instead, it carries a special 3D-printed metal ring weighing approximately 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms).

How Will It Propel?

The Terran 1 rocket employs methane as a propellant and liquid oxygen as an oxidizer. This makes it the first-ever U.S.-developed “methalox” rocket to attempt an orbital launch, and it could even be the first such rocket in the world to achieve this feat. It’s worth noting that a Chinese company, Landspace, launched its methalox rocket called Zhuque-2 in December 2022, but unfortunately, it failed to reach orbit.

The Terran 1 is a disposable rocket powered by nine Aeon engines in its first stage and one in its upper stage, and it can transport payloads weighing up to 2,756 pounds (1,250 kg) to Low Earth Orbit. However, the company is already working on something much larger and more powerful.

In fact, the Terran 1 is a stepping stone towards the Terran R’s development, a reusable rocket designed to carry up to 44,100 lbs (20,000 kg) to LEO. The Terran R stands tall at 216 feet (66 m), and company representatives have announced that it could take its maiden flight as early as next year.

Written by Muhammad Tanveer