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Watch: Mostly 3D Printed Rocket Set for First Launch


A mostly 3D printed rocket manufactured in Long Beach is scheduled for its first launch Wednesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The launch window for the Relativity Terran 1 rocket was scheduled to open at 10 a.m. California time, but lift-off was delayed to 11 a.m. The launch will mark the team’s first orbit flight attempt with the 100-foot tall, two-stage rocket, which has 80-percent 3D printed parts by mass, according to the company.

That includes structural elements and engine parts.

Relativity, founded in 2015 with factories and headquarters in Long Beach, says its fully reusable rockets can be constructed within 60 days. Eventually, the rockets will be able to carrying more than 20,000 kilograms into low-Earth orbit, the company says.

There is no cargo aboard the rocket for Wednesday’s launch.

Rocket boosters have been made from 3D-printed parts before, but Relativity’s rockets are the first developed entirely with additive manufacturing — construction of a three-dimensional object from a computer-assisted design model or a digital 3D model.

The company’s goal is to manufacture rockets made from 95 percent printed parts. offering a less expensive and faster alternative to building rockets.

If the flight is successful, Relativity’s booster would become the first methane-fueled rocket to reach orbit. Terran 1 relies on a mix of methane and liquid oxygen to produce thrust.

Wednesday’s mission will provide data to evaluate the rocket during launch and as it flies in low-Earth orbit. A learning opportunity cloaked in the dramatic spectacle of a rocket launch from the Florida coast.

“No matter the outcome tomorrow, we are still in the early innings of a 9-inning ballgame,” Relativity CEO Tim Ellis tweeted Tuesday. “This launch won’t singularly define our long-term success.”


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