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Relativity Space's 3D-printed rocket fails to reach orbit
Stock image only of Relativity Space in recent weeks.
Relativity Space's 3D-printed rocket fails to reach orbit
by Simon Mansfield
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Mar 23, 2023

Relativity Space's 3D-printed rocket, Terran 1, failed to reach orbit after an anomaly occurred during its second-stage separation. The rocket had been launched successfully on its third attempt and was designed to carry over 1000 kg of cargo into low Earth orbit. It was intended to gather data and demonstrate that 3D-printed rockets can withstand the rigors of liftoff and spaceflight.

The launch had been scheduled for March 8 and March 11, but both were aborted due to a corner case in the state separation automation and low fuel pressure for the rocket's second stage, respectively. On March 23, the rocket launched successfully from Launch Complex-16 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, but it failed to reach orbit after the anomaly during the second-stage separation.

Before the launch, the company had tweeted, "Beautiful weather today at LC-16. #GLHF, Good Luck, Have Fun," which is the company's nickname for the test flight. Josh Brost, the VP of Revenue Operations at Relativity Space, had said, "There are a number of firsts here potentially on this rocket. It has the chance of being the first liquid natural gas/liquid oxygen rocket to make it to orbit. It has, by far, the highest 3D-printed content of any rocket in history."

Relativity Space is determined to continue pushing forward with its innovative manufacturing approach. "We gathered a lot of data and pushed the limits of the vehicle further than any previous launch attempts, which will help us accelerate our path to the first customer launch later this year," said the CEO Tim Ellis.

Relativity Space's approach to rocket manufacturing could have implications for the broader aerospace industry. By 3D-printing rocket components, Relativity Space can reduce production times and costs, while also making it easier to design and manufacture new components. The company is part of a new generation of launch companies that are betting on smaller, cheaper rockets that can be manufactured more quickly and tailored to meet specific customer needs.

Other companies are following a similar path, including Rocket Lab, which is producing the Electron rocket, and Firefly Aerospace, which is developing the Alpha rocket. SpaceX is also using 3D printing for some of its rocket components. Although Relativity Space has not yet achieved orbit with its Terran 1 rocket, it is determined to continue its work on revolutionizing the rocket industry.

This report is based on AFP and UPI news wire reports and updated using ChatGPT 3.5

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