- 3D printing specialist Relativity Space on Saturday postponed the latest attempt at its debut rocket launch.
- The company’s Terran 1 rocket briefly ignited its engines before shutting down.
- Relativity attempts to launch the rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The Terran 1 rocket’s nine Aeon engines ignite briefly before shutting down during a launch attempt on March 11, 2023.
3D printing specialist Relativity Space delayed its debut launch on Saturday, aborting one of its attempts in the final second of the countdown after igniting the rocket’s engines.
Relativity’s system triggered a launch abort with just 0.5 seconds remaining before liftoff, shutting down the rocket’s engines after briefly firing.
The company’s Terran 1 rocket launches from LC-16, a launch pad at the US Space Force facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission is called “Good luck, have fun” and aims to successfully reach orbit and demonstrate the viability of the company’s ambitious production approach.
The company’s Terran 1 rocket stands on the launch pad at LC-16 in Cape Canaveral, Florida during a launch attempt on March 11, 2023.
John Kraus / The Room of Relativity
Relativity made several attempts to launch during a three-hour window—working through a variety of obstacles, including estimated high winds in the upper atmosphere and a boat that came too close to the launch area—before calling a “scrub” for the trial, which means it is postponed to a later day.
“Thanks for playing,” Relativity’s launch director Clay Walker said on the company’s webcast.
Saturday was the second day Relativity has attempted to debut Terran 1. On Wednesday, a ground equipment valve failed, affecting the temperature of the propellant pumped into the rocket, but the company said before Saturday’s attempt that it has since fixed the valve problem.
Relativity said the rocket looked “healthy” after an initial review of data. IN a series of tweetsthe company said one outage was caused by the rocket’s automatic software, which was then updated, and another outage was due to slightly low fuel pressure in its upper stage.
While many space companies are using 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, Relativity has really gone all-in on the approach. The company believes its approach will make building orbital-class rockets much faster than traditional methods, requiring thousands of fewer parts and allowing changes to be made via software. The Long Beach, Calif.-based venture aims to create rockets from raw materials in as little as 60 days.
Terran 1 is 110 feet tall, 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 85% of this first Terran 1 rocket was 3D printed.
The company’s Terran 1 rocket stands on the launch pad at LC-16 in Cape Canaveral, Florida ahead of the initial launch attempt.
Trevor Mahlmann / Relativity Space
Relativity prices Terran 1 at $12 million per launch. It is designed to carry about 1,250 kg to low Earth orbit. That puts the Terran 1 in the “medium lift” end of the US launch market, between Rocket Lab’s Electron and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in both price and capability.
Wednesday’s debut for Terran 1 does not carry a payload or satellite inside the rocket. The company emphasized that 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 thrust about 80 seconds after liftoff would be a “key inflection point” in proving the company’s technology.
The outside of the “Wormhole” factory.