Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

Wired Features Relativity Space

Wired recently featured Relativity Space, the startup making waves in the 3D printed rocket industry. Indeed, “Relativity Space may have the biggest metal 3D printers in the world, and they’re cranking out parts to reinvent the rocket industry – both on Earth – and on Mars.”

Relativity Space’s Chief Executive and Cofounder Tim Ellis, 29, “wants to combine 3D printing and artificial intelligence to do for the rocket what Henry Ford did for the automobile…Relativity wants to not just build rockets, but to build them on Mars…with robots [and 3D printing.]”

At Relativity Space’s Los Angeles HQ, there are “four of the largest metal 3D in the world, churning out rocket parts day and night. The latest model of the company’s proprietary printer, dubbed Stargate, stands 30 feet tall and has two massive robotic arms protruding like tentacles from the cylindrical machine. The Stargate printers will manufacture about 95 percent, by mass, of Relativity’s first rocket, named Terran-1. The only parts which won’t be printed are the electronics, cables, and a handful of moving parts and rubber gaskets.”

In rethinking rocket design, Relativity Space says Terran-1 “will have 100 times fewer parts than a comparable rocket….by consolidating parts and optimizing them for 3D printing, Ellis says Relativity will be able to go from raw materials to the launch pad in just 60 days – in theory, anyway. Relativity hadn’t yet assembled a full Terran-1 and doesn’t expect the rocket to fly until 2021 at the earliest.”

As for printing the components, the Stargate printers are ideal for printing large components quickly, but for parts requiring more precision, “such as the rocket’s engine, Relativity uses the same commercially available metal 3D printers other aerospace companies use. These printers use a different printing technique, in which a laser welds together layers of ultra-fine stainless steel dust.”

As Ellis explains: “fully assembled, Terran-1 will stand about 100 feet tall, and be capable of delivering satellites weighing up to 2,800 pounds to low Earth orbit. This puts it above small satellite launchers like Rocket Lab’s Electron but well under the payload capacity of massive rockets like SpaceX’s Falcon 9. This will make Terran-1 particularly well-suited to carrying medium-sized satellites.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Relativity Space and Wired

Share Button