Relativity postpones latest attempt of Terran 1 rocket launch

  • 3D printing specialist Relativity Space delayed the final attempt at its first rocket launch on Saturday.
  • The company’s Terran-1 rocket briefly fired its engines before shutting down.
  • Relativity attempts to launch rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Terran-1 rocket’s nine Aeon engines briefly fire before shutting down during a launch attempt on March 11, 2023.

relativity space

3D printing specialist Relativity Space postponed its first launch on Saturday, halting one of its attempts in the last second of the countdown after the rocket’s engines fired.

Relativity’s system triggered a launch abort with just 0.5 seconds remaining before launch, causing the rocket’s engines to shut down after a brief burn.

The company’s Terran-1 rocket launches from LC-16, a launch pad at the US Space Force facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Dubbed “Good Luck, Have Fun,” the mission aims to successfully reach orbit and demonstrate the viability of the company’s ambitious manufacturing approach.

The company’s Terran-1 rocket stands on its launch pad at LC-16 in Cape Canaveral, Florida, during a launch attempt March 11, 2023.

John Kraus / Relativity Space

Relativity made multiple launch attempts during a three-hour window — and worked its way through a variety of obstacles, including estimated high upper-atmosphere winds and a boat that got too close to launch range — before declaring a “scrub” for the attempt, meaning it will be postponed to a later day.

“Thanks for playing,” Relativity’s launch director, Clay Walker, said on the company’s webcast.

Saturday marked the second day that Relativity attempted to debut Terran 1. On Wednesday, a ground equipment valve malfunctioned, affecting the temperature of the propellant being pumped into the rocket, but the company said ahead of Saturday’s trials that it has since fixed the valve issue.

Relativity said the rocket looks “healthy” after an initial review of the data. In a series of tweetsthe company said one abort was caused by the rocket’s automatic software, which was then updated, and another abort was due to slightly low upper stage fuel pressure.

While many aerospace companies are using 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, Relativity has effectively taken that approach all the way. The company believes its approach will make building orbital-class rockets much faster than traditional methods, requires thousands fewer parts, and allows modifications via software. Based in Long Beach, California, the company aims to create rockets from raw materials in just 60 days.

Terran 1 is 110 feet tall, with nine engines powering the lower first stage and one engine powering the upper second stage. The Aeon engines are 3D printed, with the rocket using liquid oxygen and liquid natural gas as two types of fuel. The company says 85% of that first Terran 1 rocket was 3D printed.

The company’s Terran-1 rocket awaits its first attempt at launch from its launch pad at LC-16 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Trevor Mahlmann / Relativity Space

Relativity puts Terran 1 at $12 million per launch. It is designed to carry about 1,250 kilograms into low Earth orbit. This places Terran 1 in the medium-lift segment of the US launch market between Rocket Lab’s Electron and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in terms of price and performance.

Terran 1’s debut on Wednesday carries no payload or satellite in the rocket. The company stressed that the launch represents a prototype.

In a series of tweets Ahead of the mission, Ellis shared his expectations for the mission: He noted that reaching a maximum aerodynamic pressure milestone about 80 seconds after launch would be a “major inflection point” for testing the company’s technology.

The exterior of The Wormhole factory.

relativity space


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