WASHINGTON: The world’s first 3D printed rocket is scheduled to blast off from Florida on Saturday on the maiden flight of an innovative spacecraft billed as being less costly to produce and fly.
Liftoff of the rocket, Terran 1, had been scheduled for Wednesday at Cape Canaveral but was postponed at the last minute because of propellant temperature issues. The new launch window for the rocket built by California aerospace startup Relativity Space to put satellites into orbit is from 1pm to 4pm on Saturday.
Terran 1 is set to reach low Earth orbit eight minutes after blastoff on a voyage intended to gather data and demonstrate that it can withstand the rigors of liftoff and space flight.
If the rocket manages to attain low Earth orbit, it will be the first privately-funded vehicle using methane fuel to do so on its first try, according to Relativity.
Terran 1 is not carrying a payload for its first flight but the rocket will eventually be capable of putting up to 2,755 pounds into low Earth orbit.
The rocket is 110-feet tall with a diameter of 7.5 feet and 85 per cent of its mass is 3D printed with metal alloys, including the engines.
It is the largest ever 3D printed object according to the Long Beach-based company whose goal is to produce a rocket that is 95pc 3D printed.
Terran 1 is powered by Aeon engines using liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas — the “propellants of the future,” according to Relativity, capable of eventually fueling a voyage to Mars. Vulcan rockets being developed by United Launch Alliance and SpaceX’s Starship use the same fuel.