This 3D-printed rocket is heading into space in 2022

Relativity Space has developed a 3D printing system for its future Terran 1 and Terran R rockets. — Relaxnews

In a major first, American startup Relativity Space is working on two different models of entirely 3D-printed rockets! Currently in the testing phase, Terran 1 is scheduled to be launched into space in early 2022. Relativity Space's ambition is to set up a fast and autonomous 3D production system that could one day even help humans in their missions on Mars.

Faced with tough, established competitors such as SpaceX (a NASA partner) and Blue Origin, Relativity Space plans to set itself apart with its ability to build fully 3D-printed modules. The startup is betting on a radically simplified production chain, capable of building a rocket with 100 times fewer parts than the competition, and in just 60 days.

Its 3D printing platform can print metal parts up to three meters in diameter and seven meters high. The 3D printer in question is equipped with an impressive robotic arm capable of printing these huge parts in a few days. 3D printing has many advantages, such as reducing the number of parts, but also boosting their reliability. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce costs and to offer equipment that can be reused several times.

On paper, the Terran 1 rocket consists of two stages and is capable of putting into orbit large satellites weighing more than one tonne. A first flight is planned for 2022. The Terran R is a much more impressive rocket, still under development, which could be launched as soon as 2024. In both cases, the launches will take place from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Aiming for Mars

But Relativity Space does not intend to stop there. Once its 3D printing technology is perfected, the startup intends to make it available for the bases and colonies that could one day be established on the planet Mars. Autonomous 3D printing could indeed play a role in a future life on the red planet and in the development of various modules for living or moving around.

In this respect, Relativity Space has a long-term vision of 3D printing, serving mankind on Earth, in space and on Mars. – AFP Relaxnews

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