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First 3D-printed rocket successfully lifts off in Florida, but fails to reach orbit


The Terran 1 rocket, the first with most components made with 3D printers, suffered a failure after exceeding the atmosphere that prevented it from reaching its planned orbit.

By Denise Chow -

NBC News

The world's first 3D-printed rocket lifted off from the launch pad Wednesday night but missed orbit in a key test flight by a California-based aerospace company.

Relativity Space's Terran 1 rocket lifted off at 11:25 pm ET from the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida.

However, a few minutes into the flight, mission controllers reported that the rocket had suffered an upper stage anomaly that had prevented it from reaching orbit.

The upper stage is designed to ignite separate engines mid-flight to propel it into space.

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The Terran 1 rocket was carrying no cargo or satellites on its maiden flight.

Instead, the test mission, dubbed

Good Luck, Have Fun

, was designed to allow engineers to study the behavior of the booster on the launch pad and throughout its journey into space.

The Terran 1 rocket lifts off successfully from Pad 16 of the Cape Canaveral Space Station, Florida, on March 22, 2023.Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“No one has ever tried to put a 3D-printed rocket into orbit, and although we have not succeeded today, we have gathered enough data to show that it is possible to fly 3D-printed rockets,” said Arwa Tizani Kelly, Technical Test Program Manager. and launches of Relativity Space, during the live commentary of the event.

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No further details about the anomaly were provided.

Company officials said engineering teams will analyze data from the flight in the coming days to determine what happened to the rocket.

Relativity officials have claimed that 3D printing could make it cheaper to build rockets and make space capsules and other components for missions to the Moon and beyond.

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Rockets with 3D-printed parts have already flown into space, but Relativity's booster is the first to be made almost entirely with 3D printing.

According to the company, roughly 85% of the 110-foot (33.5-meter) tall rocket's mass, including its nine engines, was 3D-printed.

Relativity claims that its goal is for future versions to be 95% 3D printed and fully reusable.

The maiden launch of the Terran 1 rocket was delayed several times by technical problems with the propellant.

The company was forced to call off a first attempt this month after a problem with propellant temperature was detected in the rocket's second stage.

The second attempt, on March 11, was canceled after two last-minute aborts occurred on the launch pad.

Relativity Space was founded in 2015 and is based in Long Beach, California.

The Terran 1 rocket is designed to carry up to 2,756 pounds (1,250 kilos) to low Earth orbit.

Company officials have said that its 3D-printed thrusters will offer a relatively cheap option for launching small commercial satellites into space.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-03-23

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