Relativity Space is one of a growing number of private spaceflight companies that hope to bring a rocket to market soon. They plan to conduct the first launch of their Terran 1 rocket early next year.
Founded in 2015, Relativity Space was founded to improve spaceflight making use of additive manufacturing in a way no other rocket company has before. Additive manufacturing is more commonly known as 3D printing, and Relativity plans to be the first company to launch a fully 3D printed rocket into orbit. They were aiming to launch this year, but a new date for the Terran 1 is targeted for early 2022.
The Terran 1 rocket
The Terran 1 is Relativity Space’s first launch vehicle. It makes use of liquid methane and liquid oxygen for both the first and second stages, and it is a fully expendable launch vehicle. Each $12 million mission can carry up to 1,250 kg into low earth orbit. The 3D-printed engine, the Aeon, has been test-fired over 500 times.
The first launch will only be a test launch, and it will launch from Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, where last month they raised the strongback for the first time.
Relativity Space moving forward
Relativity Space has ambitions far beyond a single, expendable launch vehicle. While 3D printing is extremely fast, allowing Relativity to create a rocket from raw materials within 60 days, they are also working on a larger fully reusable vehicle.
The Terran R is still many years away, with Relativity targeting 2024 (and that could change). This larger rocket will be capable of carrying 20,000 kg into low Earth orbit; very close to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 which can carry 22,800 kg into low Earth orbit.
Terran 1 is only the start for what will hopefully become a very successful launch provider bringing more competition to the industry.
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