World’s First 3D Printed Rocket Fails to Reach Orbit

The world’s first 3D-printed rocket launched successfully on Wednesday but failed to reach the orbit. Billed as less costly to produce and fly, the unmanned Terran 1 rocket made by Relativity Space was less costly to produce and fly, the unmanned Terran 1 rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11:25 pm (0325 GMT Thursday) but suffered an “anomaly” during second-stage separation as it streamed towards low Earth orbit.

The first stage of the rocket performed as expected after taking off from Cape Canaveral Space station, however, it caught fire before shutting down and crashed into the Atlantic ocean.

Terran 1’s engines are powered using liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas, which are considered the “propellants of the future,” and are capable of eventually fueling a voyage to Mars, Relativity Space claims. The 110 feet tall 7.5 feet wide Terran 1 as per media reports was not a payload for its first flight, but it will eventually be capable of putting up to 2,755 pounds (1,250 kilograms) into low Earth orbit.

According to Relativity Space, 85% of its mass is 3D printed with metal alloys, including the nine Aeon 1 engines on its first stage and the one Aeon Vacuum engine on its second stage. It is the largest ever 3D printed object and is made with the world’s largest 3D metal printers.

This was not the first time the start-up attempted the launch. The launch had originally been scheduled to launch on 8 March but was postponed at the last minute because of propellant temperature issues. A second attempt on 11 March was scrubbed due to fuel pressure problems.

Relativity is also building a larger rocket, the Terran R, capable of putting a payload of 44,000 pounds (20,000 kg) into low Earth orbit. The first launch of a Terran R, which is designed to be fully reusable, is scheduled for next year.

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