First-ever 3D printed space rocket launches successfully!
Cape Canaveral, Florida - The world's first 3D space rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Wednesday.
The unmanned Terran 1 lifted off at 11:25 PM EDT after two postponements due to propellant temperature issues and fuel pressure problems.
Terran 1 – a two-stage, 110-foot tall and 7.5-foot wide rocket – is "the largest 3D printed object to exist and to attempt orbital flight," according to Relativity Space, the California aerospace startup that built it.
The rocket is currently 85% 3D printed by mass, including its engines, though Relativity Space is aiming to raise that number to 95%.
In its maiden flight, the rocket, which is a prototype vehicle that does not include a customer payload, was set to reach orbit after eight minutes.
3D rocket prototype narrowly misses out on reaching orbit
Had the rocket actually reached orbit, Relativity Space would have been the first privately-held, venture-backed space company to have successfully done so on its first launch.
However, an anomaly about five minutes into the flight meant the mission did not reach orbit. Terran 1 did reach Max-Q, the point in the launch sequence where the rocket experiences the maximum dynamic pressure.
"Today’s launch proved Relativity’s 3D-printed rocket technologies that will enable our next vehicle, Terran R," the company said after the launch, calling it "a huge win, with many historic firsts."
Terran 1 is designed to carry up to 1.3 tons into low Earth orbit.
Cover photo: REUTERS