Terran 1 was the world’s first rocket to be constructed almost entirely using 3D-printing technology. Engineers meticulously created 85% of Terran 1’s components over a five-year period using 3D printing technology.
Relativity’s groundbreaking rocket not only represents the convergence of space exploration and technology, but it also poses a critical question: can a 3D printed rocket survive the rigors that come with space travel? Terran 1’s judicious use of materials is what makes it stand out. Utilizing proprietary aluminum for its body and a unique blend of copper, chromium, and niobium for its engines—an invention born from NASA research—this rocket embodies strength and innovation. The 3D-printing process, which is a combination of laser powderbed technology for precision, and Directed Energy Deposition (DED) for large components, highlights the synergy among these techniques.
Terran 1 began its maiden journey on March 22, 2023. It was a voyage that carried the hopes and dreams for a new age in space exploration. Although the mission hit a snag when the second-stage engines failed to ignite, the rocket remarkably survived the harrowing journey through Max Q—the point of maximum atmospheric stress. This innovative venture shows how 3D printing can revolutionize rocket manufacture, making it more cost-effective and faster. In the future, astronauts may travel to space in 3D printed rockets.