Launch debut of 3D-printed rocket ends in failure

- Advertisement -

A rocket made almost entirely of 3D-printed parts made its launch debut – lifting off amid fanfare but failing three minutes into flight far short of orbit.

There was nothing aboard Relativity Space’s test flight except for the company’s first metal 3D print made six years ago.

The start-up wanted to put the souvenir into a 125-mile-high orbit for several days before having it plunge through the atmosphere and burn up along with the upper stage of the rocket.

As it turned out, the first stage did its job following lift-off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and separated as planned.

Terran 1 launches from Cape Canaveral
Terran 1 launches from Cape Canaveral (Relativity Space/AP)

It was the third launch attempt from what once was a missile site.

Relativity Space came within a half-second of blasting off earlier this month, with the rocket’s engines igniting before abruptly shutting down.

Although the upper stage malfunctioned and the mission did not reach orbit, “maiden launches are always exciting and today’s flight was no exception”, Relativity Space launch commentator Arwa Tizani Kelly said after Wednesday’s effort.

Most of the 110ft rocket, including its engines, came out of the company’s huge 3D printers in Long Beach, California.

Terran 1 sits on a launch pad prior to launch
Terran 1 sits on a launch pad prior to launch (Relativity Space/AP)

Larger versions of the rocket will have even more and also be reusable for multiple flights.

Other space companies also rely on 3D-printing but the pieces make up only a small part of their rockets.

Founded in 2015 by a pair of young aerospace engineers, Relativity Space has attracted the attention of investors and venture capitalists.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.