3D Printed Rockets, This Company is Launching a New Possibility

3D Printed Rockets, This Company is Launching a New Possibility

This revolutionary feat was achieved by Relativity Space – a start-up based out of California who are pushing the boundaries of both manufacturing and 3D printing.

A world first, aiming high and above the likes of Space X and NASA, Relativity launched their 3D printed rocket, Terran 1 on a mission named “Good Luck, Have Fun" on Thursday, March 23, 2023, at 3:25 AM (UTC).

But the ending was not all it was hoped to be, here’s why and the background on how they did it:

Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida - The Evening of The Launch

The exciting but nervous point where maximum dynamic pressures reach the dense earth's atmosphere. This is where weak rockets are ripped apart. But Terran 1 successfully overcame this hurdle, before separating the first and second stages.

At this point, the second stage engine was not able to ignite, and after just a few seconds the 3D printed unit failed to reach earth orbit. Despite its short life, It showed that 3D printing technology has come a long way and even in aerospace, it can endure the extreme forces needed to leave the ground.

 Terran 1

Who are Relativity Space?

Born in 2015, this aerospace company has had more than a billion dollars invested across venture capitalists. Headquartered in Long Beach, California with a mission to focus on additive manufacturing for private spaceflight.

Relativity Space’s 3D Printed Rocket – Revolutionising The Industry.

Made from around 85% of 3D printed parts and measuring 33.5 metres, the twin-stage rocket named Terran 1 is truly now a member of the engineering hall of fame. The company has their own in-house 3D printers that aim to make it possible for additive manufacturing in space one day.

3D printing has been around for decades, but Terran 1 is the largest and most difficult challenge the industry has faced. Relativity Space proves that additive manufacturing makes for a simplified design, with fewer parts and less reliance on outside suppliers.

Relativity has achieved what only the likes of NASA, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have been able to in recent years with the production of a spacecraft. This is because the industry has been made much less expensive with 3D printing. This unique approach forces Relativity onto the scene and CEO Tim Ellis states:

 “3D printing is the dominant force in launching and producing rockets for the future. Especially in an industry that hasn’t changed in more than 60 years”.

CEO Tim Ellis

Cape Canaveral is a location that’s been revived in recent years too, with all the big players utilising their launch sites (including the likes of Elon and Bezos as well as Relativity’s latest endeavour).

Relativity Are Just Beginning Their Outer Space Venture

Despite Terran 1’s launch ending in failure, it shows that additive manufacturing rockets are now a possibility. It is common that brand-new rockets do not launch on day 1, and Terran 1 simply leaving the pad means it was, in many ways, a success.


Terran 1 streaming through the sky

Relativity is just starting their journey. NASA and other big players are keeping a close eye on the company’s endeavours and for good reason. As the company is developing a bigger higher-powered unit named Terran R. With launches hoping to be in 2024. The most exciting part is that it will be fully reusable, so watch this space.

3D Printed Rockets, This Company is Launching a New Possibility written by Alex Bull who is an Automotive Writer, Engineer and overall enthusiast. Feel free to get in touch (click here).