Among the many private space companies that have emerged in previous years, Relativity Space deserves special attention. The company was founded in 2015 by Tim Ellis, a UCLA graduate. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering and engineering. After his studies, he worked for some time at Blue Origin, where he worked on the programs for creating the BE-4 engine and the New Glenn launch vehicle. And it can be assumed that it was there that the idea came to him on the basis of what technology he would create his space company. This is 3D printing technology.
Tim Ellis’s associate in creating Relativity Space was Jordan None, a former SpaceX engineer and now the chief technical officer of RS. The company managed to attract specialists with experience in #spacex, #blue origin, #virgin orbit and #tesla. C #nasa signed a contract for the modernization of one of the launch sites at Cape Canaveral for the launch of Relativity Space rockets.
This is the site of Launch Complex 16, from which Titan rockets were once launched, then it served for tests under the Gemini program and static tests of the propulsion engine of the #apollo service module, after which it was used by the Air Force for testing Pershing ballistic missiles. RS also has a launch pad at # Vandenberg Air Force base in California.
The RS has its own proven methane engine. The vast majority of the work on the Relativity Aeon 1, Aeon R, Aeon VAC engines and Terran rocket housings is done using a giant 3D printer nicknamed «Stargate». Tim Ellis was clearly a fan of the science fiction series of the same name.
«… Our engines, the Aeon 1, Aeon R and Aeon Vac, are 3D printed, which improves mission reliability by reducing the number of parts in the engine, ignitors, turbo pumps, reaction thrusters and vehicle pressurization systems. All Aeon’s engines use the fuel of the future, liquid oxygen + liquefied natural gas, which is not only best suited for rocket engines, but also easiest to make on Mars. Aeon has performed over 500 test burns to date. «
We noticed that the presentation of the RS Aeon engines talks about Mars. And these are not for nothing. Ellis fully wants to follow Elon Musk’s path in «building a multi-planetary future for humanity.» And he will go towards this goal, taking an example from Musk, which can be seen from his new, recently announced Terran R launch vehicle.
Terran 1 became the first RS carrier rocket. I will not dwell on it. This is a small class launch vehicle with a maximum carrying capacity of 1250 kg per LEO.
Relativity Space has announced the start of work on the creation of a fully reusable launch vehicle Terran R, with a height of 65.84 meters. According to its declared characteristics, it will be slightly inferior to the Falcon 9 from SpaceX, and surpass the future
The Terran R will be capable of hatching over 20,000 kg. into low-earth orbit (LEO) in a reusable configuration. RS recently received good funding for the project from a group of investors totaling $ 650 million. In the previous round of funding, they raised $ 500 million for their project. This suggests that investors are confident in the success and commercial effectiveness of the project.
And by the way, mind you, all the money goes where it needs to go. Here, on the one hand, there are financially motivated investors, and on the other hand, there are engineers and designers who want to realize their ideas and dreams. And here is the point where the interests of both parties coincide. There is no «padding» of useless officials and «effective» managers.
Given RS’s innovative approach to the production of engines and LV components using a 3D printer, I believe the Terran R may well start in 2024, as the company says. And this coincides in time with the release of #neutron, and is at least two years ahead of #amour. For Roskomos, this is another reason for «headaches», since there are not only more competitors, but newcomers that appear are potentially more technological, efficient, and therefore more competitive. Relativity claims that the use of their technology not only makes it possible to make rockets, in which there are dozens of times fewer elements, precisely due to 3D printing, but also that they can print 1 rocket in 60 days. And this despite the fact that they will be reusable. Moreover, all elements of the Terran R launch vehicle will be reusable.
The presented design of the future launch vehicle Terran R is impressive. Lattice rudders used for precise approach to the landing point are no longer surprising. This element after SpaceX will be used by everyone who can. They will also be on the Russian Amur.
The design of the second stage and the payload fairing is pleasing. It looks like a stylized Starship.
«… The Terran R has unique aerodynamics with algorithmically generated and optimized structures. Relativity’s patented 3D printing process is powered by software and data-driven manufacturing, exotic 3D printing materials and unique geometries not possible with traditional manufacturing. which contributes to faster progress and iteration in the industry «
In the meantime, the company has already completed printing more than 85% of the first Terran 1 launch vehicle, including its first and second stages, with a view to launch later this year from Cape Canaveral under contracts with the US Department of Defense and Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 (VCLS Demo 2) with NASA.
The leaders of the company have far-reaching plans, and # Mars is not the last place in them. And take into account the development of technology for printing giant parts, from almost any material, on 3D printers. This technology will be one of the most popular in the colonization of Mars, since there, in place, from local materials, it will be possible to create many necessary structures without dragging them with you from the Earth.
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