The Test of a 3D Rocket in Florida

Image (Credit): Launch of the Terran-1 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida. (Relativity Space)

We have heard about the possibility of 3D printing on the Moon and even Mars someday to build habitats, but what about 3D rockets to get us there as well? That is also a possibility, but not just yet.

This past Wednesday, the US private company Relativity Space tested its 3D-printed rocket. However, the Terran-1 rocket lasted for only a few minutes before falling back to Earth. It appeared to be an issue with the second stage of the rocket. You can watch a video of the entire launch and flight here.

In a tweet, Relativity Space still called it a win:

Today’s launch proved Relativity’s 3D-printed rocket technologies that will enable our next vehicle, Terran R. We successfully made it through Max-Q, the highest stress state on our printed structures. This is the biggest proof point for our novel additive manufacturing approach. Today is a huge win, with many historic firsts. We also progressed through Main Engine Cutoff and Stage Separation. We will assess flight data and provide public updates over the coming days.

This was a test flight, so no real payloads were were lost due to the second stage issue. This was smart, unlike some earlier initial rocket flights that lost important payloads.

Kudos to Relativity Space for trying something new and demonstrating some initial successes. This is a good first step for the entire space industry.