Relativity postpones the last attempt to launch the Terran 1 rocket

  • The 3D printing specialist Relativity Space postponed the last attempt to launch its first rocket on Saturday.
  • The company’s Terran 1 rocket briefly ignited its engines before shutting down.
  • Relativity attempts to launch the rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The nine Aeon engines of the Terran 1 rocket briefly ignite before shutting down during a launch attempt on March 11, 2023.

relativity space

3D printing specialist Relativity Space postponed its first launch on Saturday, halting one of its attempts in the last second of the countdown after igniting the rocket’s engines.

Relativity’s system triggered a launch shutdown with just 0.5 seconds to go, shutting down the rocket’s engines after a brief start.

The company’s Terran 1 rocket attempts from LC-16, a launch pad at the US Space Force facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission is called “Good Luck, Have Fun” and aims to successfully reach orbit and demonstrate the viability of the company’s ambitious manufacturing approach.

The company’s Terran 1 rocket stands on its launch pad at LC-16 in Cape Canaveral, Florida, during a launch attempt on March 11, 2023.

John Kraus / Relativity Space

Relativity made several launch attempts during a three-hour window – and went through a variety of obstacles, including estimated high winds in the upper atmosphere and a boat that got too close to the launch range – before calling a “scrub” for the attempt, meaning it’s postponed to a later day.

“Thanks for playing,” said Relativity Launch Director Clay Walker during the company’s webcast.

Saturday marked the second day that Relativity attempted to launch Terran 1. On Wednesday, a ground equipment valve malfunctioned, which affected the temperature of the propellant that was pumped into the rocket, but the company said before the Saturday’s attempts that it had since corrected the valve issue.

Relativity said the rocket looked “sound” after an initial review of the data. In a series of tweetsthe company said one failure was caused by the rocket’s automatic software, which was later updated, and another failure was due to slightly low fuel pressure in its upper stage.

While many space companies use 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, Relativity has effectively taken the approach. The company believes its approach will make building orbital-class rockets much faster than traditional methods, requiring thousands fewer parts and allowing modifications to be made via software. The Long Beach, Calif.-based company aims to create rockets from raw materials in as little as 60 days.

Terran 1 is 110 feet tall, with nine engines powering the lower first stage and one engine powering the upper second stage. Its Aeon engines are 3D printed, with the rocket using liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas as two types of fuel. The company claims that 85% of this first Terran 1 rocket was 3D printed.

The company’s Terran 1 rocket stands on its launch pad at LC-16 in Cape Canaveral, Florida, before the maiden launch attempt.

Trevor Mahlmann / Relativity Space

Relativity values ​​Terran 1 to $12 million per launch. It is designed to carry approximately 1,250 kilograms into low Earth orbit. This puts Terran 1 in the “mid-lift” section of the US launch market, between Rocket Lab’s Electron and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in terms of price and capacity.

Wednesday’s debut for Terran 1 does not carry a payload or satellite inside the rocket. The company stressed that the launch represents a prototype.

In a series of tweets before the mission, Ellis shared his expectations for the mission: He noted that reaching a peak air pressure milestone about 80 seconds after liftoff would be a “key inflection” point in proving the company’s technology.

The exterior of “The Wormhole” factory.

relativity space

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