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Relativity Space is trying again to launch the first 3D-printed rocket

Terran 1 at Cape Canaveral.
Photo: Relative space

After a failed launch attempt on Wednesday, Relativity Space is now ready for a relaunch. A three-hour launch window for the 3D-printed Terran 1 rocket opened at 1:00 pm ET Saturday, and you can watch the action live right here.

A two-stage rocket is trying liftoff from Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral, Florida during a three-hour window that began on March 11 at 1:00 pm ET and closed at 4:00 pm ET. Below is a live stream of the company’s launch.

Editor’s Note: At approximately 13:29 ET, or on a T-20, the Terran 1 missile entered temporary hold due to an upper level wind disturbance. We will update this story when the countdown resumes.

Terran 1: launch of the world’s first 3D printed rocket (part 2)

Relativity Space playfully called this mission “Good luck, have fun,” and for good reason. No private company has ever launched its own rocket into orbit on the first try, let alone a rocket with as many advanced features as this one. The company will not include payloads for customers given the risks.

Terran 1, in addition to being 85% 3D printed by mass, is powered by methane. To date, no launch provider, private or public, has successfully delivered a methane-fuelled rocket into orbit. There’s a good chance Relativity Space will succeed on its first try, but we’re rooting for the California-based startup founded eight years ago by Tim Ellis and Jordan Noon, two former Blue Origin engineers.

Relativity Space had hoped to launch the 9.3-ton Terran 1 on Wednesday, but was forced to cancel the launch attempt “due to exceeding launch confirmation criteria for thermal fuel conditions in Phase 2,” according to the company. explained on Twitter. In other words, the scrubbing was caused by ground crews failing to bring the methane fuel in the rocket’s upper stage up to the temperature required for launch.

Nine 3D printed Aeon motors power the rocket’s first stage, while one 3D printed Aeon Vac motor powers the second stage. Relativity uses a proprietary additive manufacturing process to create engines. Both types of Aeon use a combination of liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas, “which are not only best for rocket propulsion, but also reusable, and the easiest to eventually switch to methane on Mars.” according to to relativity.

Methane, the main component of natural gas, is considered the rocket fuel of the future. An orbital launch attempt was made by China’s Zhuque-2 rocket in December 2022, but the methane-fuelled rocket unsuccessful to get to your destination. SpaceX’s Starship launch vehicle also runs on methane fuel, but all testing done to date has included suborbital flights. All eyes are now on Relativity Space to make history.

Reaching orbit would be a brilliant result, but a rocket just leaving the launch pad would be a satisfying result. Another key milestone for the GLHF mission will be that the rocket will be able to survive Max-Q, the moment when the rockets experience the most aerodynamic load. For Terran 1, this moment will come one minute and 20 seconds after the start of the mission. Other key moments will be stage separation, ignition of the second stage engine and launch into orbit.

We’re excited to see the Terran 1 take off, and all we can say to the Relativity Space team is good luck and have fun.

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