Relativity Space discontinues Terran 1, goes 'all in' on next-gen Terran R

The company behind the launch of the world's first 3D-printed rocket aims to fly its next-generation launch vehicle by 2026.
Chris Young
Relativity Space's Terran R
Relativity Space's Terran R

Relativity Space  

Relativity Space, the company behind the launch of the world's first 3D-printed rocket, Terran 1, has announced that it will now focus on its next-generation model.

Last month, Terran 1, didn't make it to orbit, but it was still part of a successful mission. It turns out the rocket's first flight was also it's last, as Relativity Space has announced it will now focus all of its attention on the development of its next model, the reusable, 3D-printed Terran R.

New update from Relativity Space following the launch of Terran 1

Relativity Space announced on Wednesday, April 12 that it will be shifting its strategy to accelerate the development of its reusable next-generation rocket.

One of the fundamental changes the company will make involves a change to its manufacturing process: it will now combine its 3D-printing method with traditional metal-bending techniques.

In an interview with CNBC, Relativity Space CEO Tim Ellis said the company is going "all in" on developing its larger Terran R rocket, meaning it will discontinue Terran 1 after just one launch.

"We’re putting all energy and resources on getting Terran R to market as quickly as possible and then getting to a higher rate of reuse for scaling the launch volumes," Ellis explained.

As a point of reference, SpaceX launched its Falcon 1 rocket a total of five times – with the first four launches resulting in failure – before moving on to its Falcon 9 program. Falcon 9 was given the "9" designation because it features nine Merline engines.

After the debut launch of Terran 1 last month, Ellis stated that the launch had been a success, but it meant Relativity Space "had some decisions to make" about whether to continue working on the development of its first rocket.

Relativity Space shifts its focus toward Terran R

Now, Relativity Space is talking to NASA about a mission that was initially intended to fly on Terran 1, and will now presumably become a Terran R payload. Existing customers – Relativity Space has launch contracts totaling more than $1.6 billion – have also been informed their missions will be moved to the Terran R program. Relativity Space expects that Terran R won't launch until around 2026.

To accelerate the development of Terran R, Relativity Space will now use an aluminum alloy in a "hybrid manufacturing approach", which will see it build "tank straight-section barrels" used traditionally in the aerospace industry.

"We're using printing everywhere else strategically to really reduce the vehicle complexity," Ellis explained. "We can actually take the more simple, straight sections of the vehicle and build them traditionally and not have a huge decrement to the amount of difficulty that it is to build."

"Our long-term vision has not changed … we're still super focused on additive development," he continued.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board