Sunday, March 28, 2021

Relativity on track for summer test

Relativity Space is on track to ship the second stage of its 3D-printed rocket to Stennis Space Center, Miss. for testing this summer. The California-based company was founded with the goal of using 3D printing to manufacture pretty much the entirety of a small rocket. Whether it will ultimately be successful getting into space has yet to be seen, but the company's 3D printing technology does seem to be working. In an interview with Ars Technica, Relativity CEO Tim Ellis said the company recently printed the second stage that will be used on the inaugural flight of the Terran 1 rocket, right now scheduled before the end of 2021. The stage was printed at a rate of about 1 linear foot per day, so in printer time it took about three weeks in total to produce the 20-foot tall second stage. "We're now confident in this build process," Ellis said. "Not only is the second stage now completed, but we're 75 percent of the way through printing the rocket's first stage." With the printing complete, the company has begun installing an Aeon vacuum engine, avionics, and a separation system for the first stage. Assuming a successful test campaign in Mississippi, the stage will then be moved to Florida, where it will be integrated with the first stage for launch. There will be no payload with the first launch, but the second will carry a payload for NASA. With a maximum capacity of 1.25 metric tons to low-Earth orbit, the Terran 1 rocket has a base price of $12 million. It will slot into an increasingly competitive market for small launch vehicles. (Source: Ars Technica, 03/24/21) For a story on Relativity at Stennis Space Center, see page 3, Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter, June 2020.