Success in space can look vastly different from what someone may expect. This past Wednesday, Relativity Space launched its first 3D rocket, Terran 1 named Good Luck Have Fun (GLHF). The rocket may not have reached orbit, however the launch was widely regarded as successful by professionals in the space industry.
The rocket liftoff happened in Cape Canaveral, Florida just before 11:30 pm on Wednesday. Terran 1 passed through the area of maximum aerodynamic pressure (max-q) at T+1 minute and 20 seconds – the part of the flight where the first and second stages separate, and the rocket faces the most aerodynamic forces in the atmosphere. Surviving this intense pressure is a big win for 3D-printed technology in space vehicles. Shortly thereafter, around 3 minutes after launch, the mission ended when the flight failed to reach orbit.
Rockets rarely perform perfectly on their first launch, but making it through max-q is reason for Relativity Space and their peers in the industry to celebrate. The launch of the 85% 3D-printed rocket shows there is structural viability in 3D rockets – a major milestone for the fast-growing space economy.
Until now, a predominately 3D-printed rocket had never been launched into space. More companies are working on increasing the use of 3D-printed parts in space applications.
Our confidence that 3D printing has a successful future in the space industry has grown thanks to Relativity Space. As Robert Kennedy said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly.”
As we construct and prepare the first satellite in our LizzieSat™ constellation for launch in 2023, we are eager to further the success of 3D printing in space products. Our Continuous Fiber Fabrication technology can produce parts in mere hours that are stronger than 6061 Aluminum, and 40% lighter. Sidus provides internal engineering support to optimize the functional performance, product life-cycle, and accuracy of 3D-printed technology to ensure repeatability and consistency across prints. The #technology also helps meet customer demands more quickly and accurately in a cost-effective manner.
This degree of success of Relativity Space’s first 3D-printed rocket launch is an inspiration to the space industry and 3D-printed space technology. We are excited to watch the next steps, and be part of the progress and innovation to come.