Update at 3:30 PM EST: Relativity Space has canceled the first launch after Terran 1’s robotic abort earlier today. No new release date has been announced.
Relativity Space’s Terran 1 rocket, the world’s first 3D printed launcher, will fly for the first time today (March 8), and you can watch the action live.
The 110-foot (33-meter) Terran 1 is scheduled to take off from Space Force Station Cape Canaveral in Florida today during a three-hour window opening at 1 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT).
You can watch the orbital test flight—named “Good Luck, Have Fun,” or GLHF for short—here on Space-Profound.org, courtesy of Relativity Space, or live across the company (Opens in a new tab).
Related: Relativity Space to launch satellite “tugs” onto a 3D-printed rocket
GLHF is a historic mission for relativity space, and for spaceflight technology in general: The two-stage Terran 1 is the first rocket built primarily via 3D printing. This first Terran 1 is 85% 3D printed by mass, though the company aims to increase that to 95% on future vehicles.
Therefore, one of the main goals of today’s test flight is to show that the car is tough enough to withstand the rigors of a launch.
“As for the success of the flight, evacuating the pad safely, venturing across the ocean and passing Max-Q would be a huge inflection point for today’s launch,” Relativity Space representatives told Space.com by email. “Max-Q is the point where the structural loads on the vehicle are the highest, making it one of the most challenging phases of flight, so passing this milestone will effectively demonstrate that the 3D Rocket is structurally viable, in addition to already successfully completing acceptance testing.” On the ground in our factory at these extreme pressures.”
Getting into low Earth orbit (LEO) “would be a complete home run,” they added.
Terran 1 will not post anything even if it successfully accesses LEO; The missile carries no viable payload, only a 3D-printed souvenir metal ring weighing about 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms), According to EverydayAstronaut.com (Opens in a new tab).
California-based Relativity Space was founded in 2015 by Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone, both of whom worked at Blue Origin. No one was hired by SpaceX either.
Terran 1 uses methane as a propellant and liquid oxygen as an oxidizer. It will be the first US-developed Methalux rocket to attempt an orbital launch, and may be the first such vehicle to reach orbit. (Landspace’s Zhuque-2, based in Beijing, launched a Methalux rocket in December 2022 but failed to reach orbit.)
Terran 1, which is powered by nine Aeon engines from Relativity Space in its first stage and one in its upper stage, can deliver up to 2,756 lb (1,250 kg) to low Earth orbit, according to the space of relativity (Opens in a new tab). But the company is developing something much bigger and more powerful.
In fact, the Terran 1 is an evolutionary step toward the Terran R, a reusable rocket designed to carry up to 44,100 pounds (20,000 kg) into low Earth orbit. Company representatives said the 216-foot (66-meter) Terran R could fly for the first time as early as next year.
“The Terran 1 is an explorer and development platform on our way to production Terran R,” Relativity Space representatives said in the email to Space.com. “Terran 1 has served us very well in this capacity leading up to our first launch, and we expect additional key learning to come from launch day as well.”
Space.com writer Elizabeth Howell contributed to this story.
Mike Wall is the author of “outside (Opens in a new tab)Book (Major Grand Publishers, 2018; illustration by Carl Tate), a book about the search for aliens. Follow him on Twitter @tweet (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @tweet (Opens in a new tab) or Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
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