Terran 1: The 3D-Printed Rocket Pioneer

Terran 1 is the first rocket in the world to be built almost exclusively using 3D printing. Over the course of five years engineers created 85% components of Terran 1, using advanced 3D-printing techniques.

Relativity’s groundbreaking rocket not only represents the convergence of technology with space exploration, but it also poses a critical question: can a 3D printed rocket withstand the rigors and pressures of space travel. Terran 1’s judicious use of materials is what makes it stand out. Utilizing proprietary aluminum for its body and a unique blend of copper, chromium, and niobium for its engines—an invention born from NASA research—this rocket embodies strength and innovation. This 3D printing technique, which combines laser powder bed technology with Directed Energy Deposition to create large components, shows the synergy between these two techniques.

Terran 1 began its maiden journey on March 22, 2023. It was a voyage that carried the hopes and dreams for a new age in space exploration. Although the mission hit a snag when the second-stage engines failed to ignite, the rocket remarkably survived the harrowing journey through Max Q—the point of maximum atmospheric stress. This groundbreaking venture shows the potential for 3D printing to revolutionize rocket manufacturing. It can make it cheaper, faster and more efficient. And, in the future, astronauts could travel into space on 3D-printed rockets.