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Relativity’s first 3D-printed rocket launches successfully but fails to reach orbit

On Wednesday, the first 3D-printed rocket in the world, Terran 1, successfully launched on its third attempt, but was unable to reach orbit. Relativity Space, the aerospace company that launched the rocket, claimed that even though it was unable to reach orbit, the launch was a major success because the rocket was able to safely resist the maximum dynamic pressure condition intended for the structures. Terming the launch having many historic firsts, the space company said that rocket also progressed through Main Engine Cutoff and Stage Separation.

According to Relativity Space, Terran 1 is 85% 3D printed. All other parts, including the nose cone, rocket body, internal fuel tanks, and the bulk of its Aeon engines, are 3D printed with the exception of moving elements like rubber seals, computers, and electrical electronics. According to Tim Ellis, chief executive officer of Relativity and a former engineer at Blue Origin LLC, the goal of the launch is to demonstrate that the 3D-printed vehicle can withstand Max Q. During the initial few minutes of flight, when the rocket is subjected to the greatest forces and stresses, this state occurs.


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