By Joey Roulette
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Relativity Space’s 3D-printed rocket lifted off for the first time on Wednesday, passing a key milestone to demonstrate the vehicle’s in-flight strength before its second stage failed upon reaching space, a company live stream showed.
The California-based company’s 110-foot tall Terran 1 rocket, which is 85% made of 3D-printed parts, lifted off on its debut flight around 11:25 p.m. EDT (0325 GMT on Thursday) from a launchpad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Base.
Roughly 80 seconds into the flight at an altitude of nearly 10 miles (16 km) above the Atlantic ocean, the rocket reached peak aerodynamic stress as it ascended toward space at 1,242 miles per hour (1,999 km per hour), passing a key objective of the test mission.
Upon reaching space, the rocket’s second stage engine appeared to briefly ignite but failed to achieve thrust, ultimately failing to reach orbit.
“While we didn’t make it all the way today, we gathered enough data to show that flying 3D-printed rockets is possible,” Relativity Test Program Manager Arwa Tizani Kelly said on the company’s live video stream.
(Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Jamie Freed)