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Relativity Space. The Terran 1 rocket from the 3D printer took off, but failed to reach orbit

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The Terran 1 rocket, 85 percent made in 3D printing technology, took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The vehicle successfully passed the endurance test and was close to reaching orbit. The originators of the rocket, Relativity Space, plan to send more “printed” vehicles into extraterrestrial space.

The over 33-meter Terran 1 rocket took off on Wednesday at 23.25 local time (in Poland it was then 4.25 on Thursday) from Cape Canaveral, Florida. This is the first launch of a vehicle that was 85 percent made in three-dimensional printing technology (3D printing).

2000 kilometers per hour

The main purpose of the test was to see if the Terran 1 could survive the aerodynamic forces that act on the rocket during launch. After about 80 seconds of flight, at an altitude of almost 16 kilometers above the Atlantic Ocean, the rocket reached the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure. The vehicle flew through it unscathed at 2,000 kilometers per hour, passing the key objective of the test mission.

Terran 1 reached high above the Earth’s surface, but an anomaly in the rocket’s second-stage engine prevented orbital entry. It did not ignite at the right moment, ending the rocket’s flight.

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“No one has yet tried to send a 3D printed rocket into orbit,” said Relativity Space test program manager Arwa Tizani Kelly during a live launch broadcast. “While we didn’t meet all of our goals today, we’ve gathered enough data to show that flying these machines is possible.”

In social media, Relativity Space reported that the first launch proved the possibilities of 3D printing technology. On this basis, engineers will create another Terran R rocket, entirely made on a 3D printer.

Lots of problems at the start

The Terran 1 rocket was originally scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday, March 8. However, the start was postponed due to technical issues related to the system used to maintain the appropriate temperature and fuel pressure. The second launch window opened a few days later on March 11, but Relativity Space decided to abort the attempt during the launch countdown due to worrying readings.

The Terran 1 rocket is currently the largest object printed in 3D printing technology, designed for orbital flights. The vehicle can carry 1,250 kilograms of payload during missions within the low Earth orbit (i.e. up to 185 kilometers) and 900 kilograms during longer flights. During the first flight, the vehicle did not carry any cargo.

Terran 1 moments before launchReuters

Reuters, NBC News, tvnmeteo.pl

Main photo source: Reuters

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