World’s first 3D-printed space rocket ready to take off
March 11, 2023 - The world’s first 3D-printed launcher, Terran 1, is due to launch from Cape Canaveral by a startup which aims to gain a foothold in the commercial space industry.
The 33-metre-tall rocket, 85% of which was fabricated from a 3D-printer, had been scheduled to lift off from a U.S. Space Force Base launch pad in Cape Canaveral on March 8, but the launch had to be called off over fuel temperature concerns.
The Terran 1 is an intended stepping stone on the way to realising the Terran R, a reusable rocket currently under development, capable of carrying 20 times the cargo of the Terran 1, when it launches in 2024.
In order to 3D print large components, Relativity Space has created “Stargate” – a system that it claims is the world’s largest 3D printer of metals.
It uses existing welding technology to melt metal wire, layer by layer, into precise and complex structures that have minimal joints and parts.
The company says it will eventually be able to build an entire rocket (95% of which is 3D printed) in two months. Traditional methods of construction take 24 months and use 100 times as many parts.