top of page

New commercial rocket, Terran-1 to debut on March 8.

Relativity Space produces 3D printed rocket in an attempt to reduce costs

Terran-1 poised at LC 16 launch pad (Relativity)

Relativity Space marked the first launch of the Terran 1 rocket, called 'GLHF' ( Good Luck, Have Fun ), from Launch Complex 16 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch window opens at 13:00 ET (18:00 UTC) on March 8, 2023. This Terran 1 launch is Relativity's first orbital attempt and will not carry a payload. The window runs from 1 pm to 4 pm EST.


Weather conditions are forecast to be 90% favorable for the launch attempt on Wednesday, improving further to 95% in the event of a 24-hour delay to Thursday. "We expect a weak cold front to move through the area Tuesday night through Wednesday morning, bringing some light drizzle to the area, but it should be out of the area before the launch window opens," noted the 45th Weather Squadron at Patrick Space Force Base in their 'L-2' (launch minus 2 days) briefing released on Monday. "The winds are expected to be somewhat light as the pressure gradient increases between the high pressure north and the weak cold front," he added. "The sea breeze should develop and force the clouds that develop inland and away from the launch pad area." Altogether, this is expected to produce a slight violation of the Cumulus Cloud Rule, "in the event that some clouds remain in the area". Reduced winds and lower cloud cover on Thursday are expected to improve the weather picture to 95 percent favourability.


The vehicle for tomorrow's launch departed Relativity's Long Beach facility last year for an extended static test campaign at Stennis before arriving in Florida in June. Over the next few months, she underwent a series of spin-start tests of her first-stage engines, with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launch permit initially covering the July-December period for an initial launch attempt.

Launch Infographics

By 3D printing the tanks and their engines, the company is able to manufacture a rocket from raw materials in 60 days with 100 times fewer parts than current construction methods. The Terran-1 has two stages, with nine 3D-printed Aeon-1 engines producing a combined 95,000 kg kgf of thrust. These engines, which have a copper-based alloy in their thrust chambers to facilitate greater efficiency, are powered by Liquid Natural Gas and Liquid Oxygen. A single vacuum-optimized Aeon-1 engine in the second stage provides 12,700 kgf of thrust to carry payloads in what Relativity describes as a "sweet spot" range between the capabilities of Rocket Lab's Electron and SpaceX's Falcon 9.


At 33.5 meters high and 2.28 meters wide (dry mass 9,280 kg, wet mass of 80 tonnes), Terran 1 is the largest vehicle with 3D printed parts (85%) to attempt orbital flight. As a two-stage expendable rocket, it has nine 3D-printed 10,432.6 kgf Aeon engines in its first stage and an 11,521.2 kgf Aeon Vac in the second. Like their structure, Relativity engines are fully 3D printed and use liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid natural gas (typically 85-95% methane, and which contains less carbon than other forms of fossil fuels), which "does not are not only the best for rocket propulsion, but also for reuse and the easiest to transition to methane,” aiming for Mars exploration. With the Aeon-1 system printed by selective laser sintering and assembled from fewer than 100 individual parts, Relativity hopes to reduce parts loss. The company, now headquartered in a 14,000-square-foot building in Long Beach, Calif., has repeatedly touted its ability to manufacture a complete Terran-1 – first and second stages, as well as associated engine machinery – in less than 60 days.

In addition to tomorrow's “Good Luck, Have Fun” launch, Relativity has a growing list of customers. In April 2019, it signed a multi-year deal with Telesat for an undisclosed number of its constellation of global broadband satellites in low Earth orbit, before signing another deal the same month with Thai space technology company mu Space to launch “a dedicated primary payload”. A year later, in May 2019, a Launch Services Agreement (LSA) was entered into with Spaceflight, Inc., under which the purchase of a first launch – then scheduled for the third quarter of 2021 – would be followed by “ options for additional rideshare launches in the future.” And the following October, another LSA was signed to place small and medium-sized satellites into geosynchronous orbit in six missions with Momentus' Vigoride Extended space tug. The latter are expected to weigh up to 350 kg.

More recently, global mobile communications provider Iridium embarked in June 2020, with the expectation that six Terran-1 missions, starting no earlier than 2023, would each carry a single Iridium NEXT satellite into low orbit, weighing around 1,870 pounds. pounds (850 kilos). Added to the list is a cryogenic technology demonstration mission led by Lockheed Martin, flying under NASA's Tipping Point program, a "complete mission" on behalf of TriSept Corp. two).


Two graduate gentlemen of famous companies created Relativity

Founded in 2015 by aerospace engineers Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone — formerly of Blue Origin and SpaceX, respectively — Long Beach, Calif.-based Relativity Space seeks to build its own orbital-class rockets almost entirely through additive manufacturing and its components integrated with your Stargate 3D printing system. Each first-generation Terran-1 costs about $12 million and is reportedly capable of delivering payloads of up to 1,250 kilograms in low orbit to an altitude of 300 kilometers. Since spring 2018, the Aeon-1 validation and certification campaign has been conducted through a $30 million Commercial Space Launch Act Agreement with NASA's Stennis Space Center (SSC) in Bay St. at the E4 Test Complex test site.


Historic Platform LC-16

Tomorrow's launch not only marks the Terran-1's first flight, but also the first launch in over three decades of Cape's celebrated LC-16. This installation can trace its ancestry back over half a century. Situated south of the site of Platform 34, where NASA astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee lost their lives in the Apollo 1 fire, the LC-16 got its start in 1957 in the Air Force's Titan missile program. It played host to thirteen Titan launches between December 1959 and May 1963, before transitioning to NASA as a test stand for static firing of the Service Propulsion System (SPS) engine of the Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM). ). Returned to Air Force jurisdiction in January 1972, the LC-16 was put back into service to test the Army's Pershing short-range ballistic missile program. It witnessed the launch of 79 short-range Pershing-1 missiles between May 1974 and October 1983 and 49 medium-range Pershing-2 missiles from July 1982 until the complex's decommissioning following the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union in March 1988.

Launch Timeline

After its abandonment, the LC-16 continued to degrade for more than three decades, before Relativity was granted the right to explore via permission from the 45th Space Wing and took over the site in January 2019. It was the first time that a direct agreement between the Air Force and a venture capital-backed orbital launch company was completed for the LC-16, and Relativity initially assumed management of the complex for five years, with an option to extend to an exclusive 20 years.

Comments


bottom of page