3D rocket launch today in Cape Canaveral from Relativity Space
First 3D-printed rocket prepares for launch
A rocket made by the world’s largest metal 3D printer is set to lift off from Florida this week. Manufacturer Relativity Space hopes to pave the way for a new era of space exploration. (March 7)
Hopefully the third time will be the charm for Relativity Space and its 3D-printed rocket’s inaugural blast into space.
The Long Beach, California-headquartered space company has scheduled the third attempt at liftoff for its 110-foot-tall Terran 1 rocket – 85% of which is made with massive 3D printers – in a three-hour window opening at 10 p.m. EST Wednesday at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Relativity Space’s second launch attempt for the rocket on March 11 was halted for two automated aborts, the company said on Twitter. An initial launch attempt March 8 was scrubbed “due to exceeding launch commit criteria limits for propellant thermal conditions on stage 2,” the company said.
Conditions during the launch window should be 95% “go” for liftoff, reported Florida Today, part of the USA TODAY Network.
“Favorable weather looks to be in place for the launch attempt Wednesday night,” forecasters said Tuesday. “Expect partly cloudy skies in the area so there is a slight concern for the cumulus cloud rule, but the overall coverage should diminish through the late afternoon and early evening hours tomorrow.”
Spectators on hand will be treated to mild conditions, too: 67 degrees and 81% humidity.
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How to watch the launch of Relativity Space’s 3D-printed rocket live Wednesday
Relativity Space is streaming the launch live on its YouTube channel starting at 9:30 p.m. EST Wednesday.
What is the 3D-printed rocket’s mission?
The Terran 1, which is a prototype with no customer payload, is scheduled to liftoff, then undergo a stage separation, second engine start and cutoff, and achieve orbit.
The goal of the initial launch is to prove the 7.5-feet diameter, 3D-printed vehicle is durable enough for launch and space flight.
Liftoff and getting over the Atlantic and passing Max-Q – the point in the flight when the rocket will be at maximum stress – would “be a big inflection point,” the company said in a discussion of launch success on Twitter. “Why? Because it’s the phase of flight where the structural loads on the vehicle are the highest, passing this point in flight proves our hypothesis: 3D printed rockets are structurally viable!”
Should the Terran 1 – dubbed “Good Luck, Have Fun” or “GLHF” – make it to low Earth orbit (LEO), Relativity Space will consider it “a total home run,” Space.com reported, citing an email from Relativity Space representatives.
“We have our own in-house team that has designed this rocket from a blank piece of paper, built our own factory with the world’s largest metal 3D printers, our own custom aluminum alloys. We build our own rocket engines,” said Tim Ellis, cofounder and CEO of Relativity Space. “Now we’re about to launch it.”
This launch is just the first step in Relativity’s interstellar plan to go to Mars.
Last year, the company announced plans with Impulse Space of El Segundo, California, to develop a Mars Cruise Vehicle and Mars Lander on a Terran R rocket no earlier than 2024.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.
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