Relativity Space’s 3D-printed rocket fails to lift off

The spacecraft successfully fired its first-stage engines but did not get off the ground during second launch attempt


Last Saturday was a day of false starts for Relativity Space. Its Terran 1 rocket failed to get off the ground after two launch attempts. If you have a slight interest in Additive Manufacturing & Space, then you probably know Relativity Space, one of the rare space companies that develop a proprietary metal 3D printing technology to manufacture components for its rockets. The latest technology they unveiled is the Stargate 4th Generation of metal 3D printers.

Relativity Space’s Stargate 4th Generation metal 3D printer moves horizontally instead of vertically, feeding multiple wires into a single print head. Image courtesy of Relativity Space.

It’s been seven years that the company has been working on this rocket. The company’s 3D-printed rocket was supposed to be launched into Earth’s orbit, but the engines stopped working during the launch process. The first launch was expected to be held from Launch Complex 16 (LC-16) in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on March 8, 2023, after 1 PM. As it was the company’s first orbital attempt, the Terran 1 prototype vehicle did not include a customer payload. The first launch was rather nicknamed “Good Luck, Have Fun” (GLHF) to commemorate its first launch.

Terran 1 carried a failed 3D printed rocket part from a previous attempt to build a craft. As a reminder, 85% of the 110-foot-tall Terran 1 rocket was 3D printed. According to a tweet from the company, it was pulled off the launch pad due to dwindling “propellant thermal conditions” in the rocket’s second stage during a three-hour launch window.”

When using liquid natural gas, the methane needs time to get to the right concentration. This is why our next attempt will be a few days from now. More to come soon!” the company wrote.

At first, the rocket’s engines started, but before it could lift off, they were shut down, which means it didn’t get very far. The rocket company has not announced why the engines failed to stay on during the launch, and it’s unclear when they will attempt again. Hopefully, this will not jeopardize AM’s potential for the space industry. Stay Tuned.


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