On Wednesday night, the first-ever 3D-printed rocket was supposed to launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Center, but it was scrubbed less than an hour before liftoff.
Concerns about fuel temperature forced the California-based startup Relativity Space to postpone the launch of its new rocket,
delaying a crucial test of its ground-breaking approach to reducing the cost of producing spacecraft.
Because of reduced “propellant thermal conditions” in the rocket’s second stage during a three-hour launch window, the 110-foot-tall Terran 1 rocket
—85% of which was made from a 3D printer—was removed from the launch pad,
the company announced on Twitter.
“Methane requires time to reach the appropriate concentration when used as liquid natural gas.
We won’t try again for a few days because of this. Soon, more will follow! The business wrote.
The following launch is slated to occur on Saturday between 1 and 4 p.m.
Relativity is one of many startups vying to meet the rising demand for cost-effective launch services,
and it has placed a big bet on its enormous,
robotic 3D printer to cut costs on the assembly line.
The business’s approach is different from that of companies that have made an effort to cut costs by creating reusable rockets,
such as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 boosters.
According to Josh Brost,
senior vice president of revenue at Relativity,
“The launch that we’re getting ready for is an opportunity to demonstrate a whole bunch of things at once.”
By far the largest 3D-printed structure ever assembled, according to Brost,
is the Terran 1 rocket.
He claimed that assembling the rocket with the printer speeds up the manufacturing process and enables the business to easily make design changes to the rocket without the need for a convoluted supply chain.
Brost stated that he would not be shocked if the launch were to be delayed even before it happened.
First launches of new rockets are infamously prone to require the scrub for a variety of reasons, according to Brost.
Therefore, it would not be at all unlikely for us to require more than one attempt to complete the countdown and launch our debut.
As demand has been driven by businesses like SpaceX,
OneWeb, and Amazon looking to deploy tens of thousands of internet-beaming satellites in low orbit,
Terran 1 is designed to transport 2,755 pounds of satellites over Earth.
The Terran R, a much bigger design created by Relative, is scheduled to launch in 2024.