The first rocket manufactured almost exclusively using 3D-printing technology will attempt to reach outer space next week, marking a major milestone for Long Beach-based Relativity Space.
Manufactured at the firm’s Long Beach headquarters, Relativity’s 110-foot-tall, 7.5-foot-wide Terran 1 launch vehicle is the largest 3D-printed object to exist, according to the company, and when the launch window for the company’s first mission opens March 8, it will become the largest object to attempt orbital flight.
“Seven years ago, I remember at Y Combinator our mentor Sam Altman told us we were absolutely crazy for trying to simultaneously invent a brand new manufacturing technology and an orbital rocket, which is already super hard,” founder Tim Ellis tweeted last week. “Now we are on the launch pad almost ready to go with the world’s first 3D printed rocket.”
While the company has a goal of its Terran 1 rocket to be 95% 3D printed, the first iteration is 85% 3D printed by mass, according to the company. The rocket’s structure and engines are entirely 3D printed, but other components are not yet produced in-house by the company.
7 years ago, I remember at @ycombinator our mentor @sama told us we were absolutely crazy for trying to simultaneously invent a brand new manufacturing technology and an orbital rocket, which is already super hard. Now we are on the launch pad almost ready to go with the world’s… https://t.co/EG8qRbvwHv
— Tim Ellis (@thetimellis) February 22, 2023
The two-stage rocket cannot be 100% 3D printed, as certain components such as wiring do not lend themselves to being printed.
Dubbed “Good Luck, Have Fun,” the mission will not be carrying a customer payload, according to the company’s website. In future missions, the company’s target performance capability is to be able to deliver a payload of up to 2,756 pounds to orbit 310 miles above the Earth’s surface.
The mission is slated to take off as early as 1 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 16 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“It’s been a truly wild ride to get to this point, and certainly way harder than I ever imagined going into it – but all the feels from me and our team as we embark on this historic launch,” Ellis wrote. “There is a very bright future ahead for Relativity Space. (And for what it’s worth, Sam says he’s a big fan now.)”