Another No-Go For Relativity’s 3D Printed Rocket

Another No-Go For Relativity’s 3D Printed Rocket

Relativity Space tried and tried and tried again today to launch the 3D printed Terran-1 rocket, but in the end it was another abort. Three attempts within the three-hour launch window got as close as 0.5 seconds from liftoff, but tonight the rocket is still on the launch pad.

Today’s webcast began with an explanation of what scrubbed the first attempt to launch the “Good Luck, Have Fun” or GLHF mission on March 8.  A ground equipment valve malfunctioned, preventing engineers from getting the propellant’s liquid oxygen (LOX) to the correct cryogenic temperature.

Terran-1 is the first 3D printed rocket — 85 percent of the structure and engines are 3D printed — as well as one of the first to use methane-LOX, or methalox, engines. It could become the first methalox rocket to reach orbit if it gets there before the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan, which uses BE-4 methalox engines built by Blue Origin, which will use them for its own New Glenn rocket. Vulcan rolled out to its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station yesterday, not far from Relativity’s pad.

Relativity fixed the valve and was ready to try again today during a three-hour launch window between 1:00-4:00 pm ET.

A hold was called during the first countdown when a boat entered the restricted zone.

They quickly recycled once the boat left the area, but the second countdown ended dramatically when the nine first-stage engines fired, but the rocket remained sitting on the pad. Automated systems that take control of the countdown at T-70 seconds had detected a problem at 0.5 seconds and aborted the launch.

The countdown clock shows T-00:00:00, but the Terran-1 rocket is still on the pad, March 11, 2023. Automated systems aborted the launch at 0.5 seconds. Screengrab.

Relativity still had more than an hour in its launch window and decided to try again. They recycled for launch at 4:00 pm ET, the very end of the window, but the countdown again was automatically aborted, this time at T-45 seconds.

Second abort for Terran-1, March 11, 2023, at T-45 seconds. Screengrab.

The company later tweeted a brief review of what happened.

Stay tuned for an announcement for when they will try again.

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