3D printed rocket endures Max-Q forces but didn’t reach orbit

  • Relativity Space launched its Good Luck, Have Fun mission on Thursday.
  • The Terran 1 is 85 percent 3D printed and managed to sustain the extreme Max-Q forces experienced during launch.
  • The launch wasn’t carrying a payload.

We have had 3D printed toys, food and houses and now Relativity Space has shown that a 3D printed rocket is not only viable, it could be the next step in low-cost space exploration.

Terran 1, Relativity Space’s first 3D printed rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Thursday evening in a test flight named Good Luck, Have Fun. This was the third attempt at a launch following previous attempts that were scrubbed.

According to, the vessel lifted off fine and even endured Max-Q forces. This is where the maximum amount of force the rocket will experience takes place. Unfortunately, shortly after reaching Max-Q, approximately three minutes into the flight, something went wrong and Terran 1 never reached orbit.

Despite this failure, the launch is still a monumental leap forward for Relativity Space.

“No one’s ever attempted to launch a 3D-printed rocket into orbit, and, while we didn’t make it all the way today, we gathered enough data to show that flying 3D-printed rockets is possible,” the firm’s program manager Arwa Tizani said during a live stream.

As much as 85 percent of Terran 1 is 3D printed, but Relativity Space hopes to bump this up to 95 percent for future vehicles. Even the liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas engines are 3D printed. In total there are nine Aeon engines on the first stage of the rocket and one Aeon Vac engine on the second stage.

For this test, Relativity didn’t have a payload on Terran 1. Instead the rocket carried a 3D printed ring as something of a memento.

While Relativity Space now needs to investigate why Terran 1 failed to reach orbit, the fact that it got the vessel in the air and beyond Max-Q is impressive. It’s worth remember that launching a rocket is a complex task, one that JAXA was reminded of when its H3 rocket was sent a destruct command shortly after launch.

With 3D printing and AI helping design spacecraft parts, the future of space exploration could look very different in a few years, at least as regards the manufacturing of vehicles.

If you want to take a closer look at how a rocket is 3D printed, we highly recommend you give the video below a watch.


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