Relativity Space's 3D-printed rocket launch on Saturday; know the significance
If Relativity Space's Terrain 1 becomes successful, it will be the first rocket to reach orbit that is almost entirely made of 3D-printed parts, as well as the first to do so using fuel derived from methane.
Relativity Space has rescheduled the launch of the ‘first’ rocket of its kind- a 3D-printed spacecraft- for Saturday after the initial effort was scrubbed due to a fuel leakage problem.
The company announced the launch delay of the rocket Terran 1 in a tweet on Wednesday, citing rocket propellant temperature issues. If it is successful, it will be the first rocket to reach orbit that is almost entirely made of 3D-printed parts, as well as the first to do so using fuel derived from methane, Bloomberg reported.
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Relativity Space, a relatively new entrant to space sector with no prior experience of launching a rocket claimed that 85% of Terran 1 is 3D-printed. Except moving parts such as rubber seals, computers, and electrical circuitry, all other parts including the nose cone, rocket body, internal propellant tanks, and the majority of its Aeon engines are 3D-printed.
The company claims to have built the world’s largest metal 3D printer to create the rockets.
By 3D printing, the company says it will make their designing precise as well as lower the labour force, thus drastically decreasing the cost of the rocket.
Relativity's chief executive officer, Tim Ellis, a former engineer at Blue Origin LLC, says the goal is to demonstrate that the 3D-printed vehicle can withstand Max Q, which occurs in the first few minutes of flight when the rocket is subjected to the greatest forces and stresses.
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Propelled by Methane fuel
If successful, Terrain 1 will also become first rocket running on methane fuel to achieve orbit. Despite being less effective than the substitute hydrogen, methane doesn't need to be as cold to function and requires less complicated machinery. It is also has lesser chance of leaking from the engine than hydrogen fuel .
One of the most significant advantages of using methane as fuel is that it burns cleaner, with less soot than another alternative fuel, kerosene.
“Hydrogen fuel rocket engines are like the Ferraris of the rocket engine,” Martin Ross, an atmospheric scientist at the non-profit Aerospace Corp told Bloomberg. “They’re very complex, difficult to manufacture, difficult to reuse. But they’ve got great performance,” he continued.
(Inputs from Bloomberg)