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3D-printed Rocket Fails Minutes after Florida Launch

Relativity Space's 3D-printed rocket Terran 1 sits on the launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida on March 8. The company's launch on March 22 failed. (Trevor Mahlmann/Relativity Space via REUTERS)
3D-printed Rocket Fails Minutes after Florida Launch
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A rocket made almost entirely of 3D-printed parts started its first flight late Wednesday but failed to reach orbit. The 33-meter-long rocket, called Terran 1, took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The startup company Relativity Space created 85 percent of the rocket using 3D printing technology. Most parts came from the company’s large printing center in Long Beach, California.

Terran 1 took off successfully and stayed in the air for three minutes. The first stage, or lower part, of the rocket launched and separated as planned. The upper stage, however, appeared to ignite and then shut down, sending it crashing into the Atlantic Ocean.

Relativity Space had hoped for the rocket to stay in orbit for several days before falling through Earth’s atmosphere and burning up.

It was the second failed launch by Relativity Space this month. The company called off an attempt 12 days ago just seconds before takeoff.

Though the rocket did not reach orbit, the company said it was pleased with the launch.

Arwa Tizani Kelly works for Relativity Space and discussed the launch. Kelly said that “(first) launches are always exciting and today’s flight was no exception.”

Although other space businesses use 3D-printed materials, the pieces make up only a small part of their rockets.

Relativity Space was founded in 2015 by two young engineers. The company said it is working to develop larger versions of the rocket that will have even more 3D-printed material.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on a report by the Associated Press.


Words in This Story

3-D printing –n. the process of creating an object layer by layer, using a design made on a computer

ignite –v. to cause something to burn


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