Relativity Space and 3D printed launchers

It was recently announced by NASA that Launch Complex 16 at Cape Canaveral (unused since 1988) is to be turned over to Relativity Space. They intend to use the complex to launch their methane/LOX Terran 1 launcher. This 2 stage rocket stands 100 feet tall and can launch a 2750 lb payload into low-Earth orbit.

But the real kicker here is that the Terran 1, engines, tanks, and other structures, will be produced by a 3D printer! 3D printing has come a long way. The Terran 1 isn’t going to be plastic… at least not pure plastic. Their printer is a metal 3D. It doesn’t actually produce pure metal, but a metal mixed with a plasticizing agent.  This leads to higher strength and greater durability.

I don’t doubt the ingenuity of the folks at Relativity Space. But maybe I’m from Missouri. I want to see this thing fly a few times before I put much stock in its reliability. In my mind, a metal/plastic mix is… well… plastic!

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