The world's first 3D-printed rocket finally made it off the ground from Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Wednesday night. However, the rocket created by Relativy Space, called Terran 1, could not complete its objective and failed to enter Earth's orbit, eventually crashing to the surface.
The launch occurred at 8:25 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The first and second stages followed the planned pattern, separating as expected. However, three minutes after launch, the rocket went off course and was unable to reach orbit.
3D printing key to lower costs
Nevertheless, optimism reigned at the company's headquarters in the aftermath. "While we didn't make it all the way today, we gathered enough data to show that flying 3D-printed rockets is possible," analyzed Arwa Tizani Kelly, Relativity Space's technical director of the test and launch program. Kelly said the company completed "an important step" in letting the world know that 3D printing in the construction of space vehicles is "structurally viable.
Today’s launch proved Relativity’s 3D-printed rocket technologies that will enable our next vehicle, Terran R. We successfully made it through Max-Q, the highest stress state on our printed structures. This is the biggest proof point for our novel additive manufacturing approach.… pic.twitter.com/9iaFVwYoqe
— Relativity Space (@relativityspace) March 23, 2023
Terran-1 was made from 85% printed material, and the company's goal is to increase this percentage to 95%. The viability of this type of rocket is key to lowering the price of parts to be used in future space missions.