Relativity Space launching Terran 1 rocket early 2022

Relativity Space construction of Terran

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.

LC-16 strongback. Credit: Relativity Space

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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