An American company called Relativity Space has developed a three-dimensional rocket. The Terrain 1 rocket is scheduled to launch from Launch Complex 16 on March 8 at the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida.
If the process is successful, it will be the first flight of a 3D-printed rocket, opening a new era in space exploration. “We have our own in-house team that designed this rocket from scratch from a blank slate,” says Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space.
“We built our own rocket engines. We built our own factory with the world’s largest metal 3D printers and our own aluminum ingots. We tested the rocket extensively on the ground at our test facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.”
At just 34 meters (110 feet) tall, it is smaller than the Atlas and Falcon 9 rockets, and is 85% 3D-printed with nine engine parts from the first version (Ion 1) and a vacuum engine from the second version.
“It’s the largest 3D-printed metal product in the world. So, there’s a lot of innovation in 3D printing,” says Ellis. Despite its size, the Terran 1 rocket is capable of lifting 2,000 kilograms (4,400 lb) into low Earth orbit.
The rocket uses liquid oxygen and purified liquid natural gas near methane, a mixture called “Metalox”. The California-based startup hopes its technology will revolutionize the space industry.
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