CAPE CANAVERAL,Fla. – Ahead of the first fully 3D-printed rocket launch from Cape Canaveral later this year, Relativity Space is revealing new details about its larger Terran R rocket, which could compete with the Falcon 9, SpaceX’s workhorse rocket.
Relativity Space, a Long Beach, California, company founded five years ago, is developing the first fully reusable 3D-printed rocket known as the Terran 1. Its first launch is slated for later this year from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Launch Complex-16. Relativity has been modernizing LC-16 for launch over several years and says the launchpad will also be home to the Terran R rocket. Terran means “of this Earth” and materials used to 3D print the hardware can all be found on our home planet.
On Tuesday, Relativity announced it had secured $650 million in Series E equity funding, helping the company to begin scaling up production for the Terran R. Some of the funders include notable celebrities such as Mark Cuban and Jared Leto.
“There’s an organic relationship between 3D printing and reusability, and it gives us an unparalleled advantage to design the best fully reusable rocket possible,” Relativity Space CEO and co-founder Tim Ellis said. “Over the last year, we found ourselves being asked by the market to accelerate development of our larger launch vehicle, so we knew it was time to double down on our existing plans and scale the Terran R program even faster and build production capabilities at scale sooner.”
Terran 1 is a small launch vehicle capable of launching small spacecraft of around 2,000 pounds into low-Earth orbit. According to Relativity, Terran R will be able to carry payloads weighing 20 times more at more than 44,000 pounds.
Standing 216 feet tall, the Terran R will also be fully reusable and 3D printed. Its seven Aeon R engines produce about 302,000 pounds of thrust each. The rocket’s fairing is 5 meters wide.
Compared to the SpaceX Falcon 9, which is 229 feet tall with a 5-meter-wide fairing and capable of sending more than 50,000 pounds into low-Earth orbit, Terran R will be another option for a reusable rocket in the coming years.
Relativity Space was founded with the ultimate goal of going to Mars and building a base there with materials found on the red planet.
“Together with our first rocket Terran 1, our second product, Terran R, will continue to take advantage of Relativity’s disruptive approach to 3D printing – reduced part count, improved speed of innovation, flexibility, and reliability – to bring to market the next generation of launch vehicles,” Ellis said. “Relativity was founded with the mission to 3D print entire rockets and build humanity’s industrial base on Mars. We were inspired to make this vision a reality, and believe there needs to be dozens to hundreds of companies working to build humanity’s multiplanetary future on Mars. Scalable, autonomous 3D printing is inevitably required to thrive on Mars, and Terran R is the second product step in a long-term journey Relativity is planning ahead.”