Californian aerospace company Relativity Space has unveiled plans to develop a fully reusable, entirely 3D printed launch vehicle called Terran R.
Utilizing software-defined manufacturing that fuses 3D printing, AI and autonomous robotics, Relativity’s two-stage, 216-foot-tall rocket will be entirely reusable and capable of launching 20,000kg to low Earth orbit (LEO). It possesses a 16-foot diameter and comes with a 5-meter payload fairing.
Relativity has already secured nine launch contracts from both private and government customers.
These include a newly announced U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) contract, facilitated by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 contract with NASA, as well as an on-demand satellite launch contract with Iridium.
According to Relativity, its Terran R will be outfitted with seven 3D printed Aeon R rocket engines capable of 302,000 lb. thrust each, while its upper stage houses one Aeon Vac engine.
Starting in 2024, Terran R will launch from Launch Complex 16, the company’s site at Cape Canaveral, where Terran 1 is also set to launch this year.
Relativity is hoping its latest invention will help it gain a strong foothold in humanity’s multiplanetary future.
It plans to eventually offer customers a point-to-point space freighter capable of missions between Earth, Moon and Mars.
Drawing light on how the Terran 1 (the world’s first entirely 3D printed rocket) and Terran R (the 20X larger fully reusable rocket) are an integral part of the company’s ‘Factory of the Future’ platform, CEO and co-founder Tim Ellis said that both products will take advantage of Relativity’s disruptive approach to 3D printing – reduced part count, improved speed of innovation, flexibility, and reliability – to bring to market the next generation of launch vehicles.
“Relativity was founded with the mission to 3D print entire rockets and build humanity’s industrial base on Mars,” says Ellis.
“We were inspired to make this vision a reality, and believe there needs to be dozens to hundreds of companies working to build humanity’s multiplanetary future on Mars.”
“Scalable, autonomous 3D printing is inevitably required to thrive on Mars, and Terran R is the second product step in a long-term journey Relativity is planning ahead.”
Image and content: Relativity Space