California company’s 3D-printed rocket forced to scrub launch again

Relativity Space scrubs launch of 3D-printed rocket from Space Coast

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A rocket made almost entirely of 3D-printed parts had to abort its debut launch for a second time Saturday.

California-based Relativity Space attempted to launch the rocket to orbit from a former missile site at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station earlier this week but had to reschedule the launch to 1:45 p.m. Saturday.

After high-level winds forced delays, the launch was eventually aborted again.

“Based on initial data review, vehicle is healthy. More info to follow on cause of aborts today. Thanks for playing. #GLHF” the company wrote on Twitter.

On Wednesday, on-board flight computers halted the countdown with just over a minute remaining because of a temperature issue with the rocket’s upper stage. Mission Control decided to fix the problem and try again before the launch window closed, but in the end called it quits for the day.

It’s a relatively small rocket, just 110 feet, and won’t be carrying anything for this test flight except for a memento: the first metal 3D print from the company’s printers.

About 85% of the rocket, named Terran, is made of 3D parts printed at the company’s factory in Long Beach, California, including its engines. Relativity Space aims to increase that percentage on its future versions.

SpaceX's Falcon rockets have been flying with 3D-printed parts for years, but not nearly to the extent of Relativity Space's new rocket.

Relativity Space said its rocket is the largest 3D-printed object to attempt a launch.

Businessman Mark Cuban of TV's “Shark Tank” was among the early investors in the company.


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About the Authors:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.