Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E) – Relativity Space, a Los Angeles-based start-up orbital launch company founded in 2015, revealed the world’s first 3D printed rocket engine created by its own monster metal 3D printer.
The company released a video showing a test firing of its entirely 3D printed rocket engine named Aeon 1. The engine went from ignition to full thrust in milliseconds during the test at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Relativity claims its Aeon 1 engine takes far less time to create than a traditional rocket because it’s 3D printed. It said it took one month to 3D print the engine instead of the usual six months using traditional methods of assembly and fabrication.
“Our process reduces the number of component interfaces, making full robotic automation of engine production possible,” said Relativity.
It boasted that entirely 3D printed Aeon 1 has100x fewer parts and attains 10x faster iteration compared to traditional production processes.
“Our technology builds toward our long-term goal of 3D printing the first rocket made from Mars,” said the company.
To accomplish this aim, Relativity is creating the first autonomous rocket factory.
Relativity describes itself as an orbital launch company that will deploy and resupply satellite constellations with short lead times and at low cost. It aims to decrease the price of rocket launches from $100 million to $10 million in four years.
Relativity will 3D print its first launch vehicle — Terran 1 — using a proprietary building-sized metal 3D printer named “Stargate.” It said the complete printing of Terran 1 will slash vehicle part count from nearly 100,000 to fewer than 1,000 components.
This will be the first step toward Relativity building an entirely autonomous launch vehicle factory.
Terran 1 will stand 90 feet-tall and will be 7 feet-wide. It will be able to loft 2,000 pounds into orbit by 2020.
Developed at Relativity, Stargate is the backbone to the company’s vertically integrated factory. It will enable Relativity to go from raw material to flight in less than 60 days
“We are creating an entirely new type of evolvable production line,” said the company.
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