Friday, 21 Jun 2024

3D-printed rocket fails minutes after launch

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A rocket made almost entirely from 3D printed parts successfully launched on Wednesday night, only to fail just before entering space.

Relativity Space, a California-based aerospace manufacturer, launched its Terran 1 rocket at the Space Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11.25pm on Wednesday night.

The 110-foot rocket’s first stage was successful, reaching a distance of 10 miles into the atmosphere at a speed of 1,242 miles per hour.

But as the rocket tried to ignite its stage 2 engines to enter space, a launch director reported an ‘anomaly.’ Moments later, the craft’s engines appear to sputter out.

The remains of the Terran 1 then plummeted back to Earth, crashing into the Atlantic Ocean.

‘As you heard from our launch director, we did have an anomaly with stage 2 during flight,’ Relativity Space Test Program Manager Arwa Tizani Kelly said during a company livestream. ‘But maiden launches are always exciting and today’s flight was no exception.’

Despite the failure, Kelly said the launch’s main objective of collecting flight data was successful. ‘While we didn’t make it all the way today, we gathered enough data to show that flying 3D-printed rockets is possible,’ she said.

The Terran 1 was made from 85% 3D printed parts, which were created by the company’s massive 3D printers in Long Beach, California. The company called the rocket ‘the largest 3D printed object to exist and to attempt orbital flight.’

Wednesday’s launch was the company’s third attempted launch of the Terran 1. The last attempt on March 8 was aborted at the last minute due to a temperature issue.

Relativity Space was founded in 2015 by aerospace engineers Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone, who were hoping to better use 3D printing technology for spaceflight.

The company has since raised over $1.4billion in venture capital funds, including from high profile investors such as billionaire Mark Cuban and index fund BlackRock.

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