Relativity Space Launch Vehicle Reaches Pad as Co-founder Ellis Sees Upside in Chinese Failure

Staff members pose with the first Terran 1 rocket at the launch pad in Florida. (Credit: Relativity Space)

Relativity Space’s 3D printed Terran 1 rocket reached the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida as the company continued preparations for the booster’s maiden flight early next year.

“Documenting #newhistory in the making at Launch Complex 16! With nearly every department across the company represented, teams at the Cape yesterday gathered to commemorate a momentous week as we step into final phases of testing for Terran 1’s #GLHF flight,” the company tweeted with a photo of employees in front of the rocket.

Terran 1 is a two-stage rocket designed to place 1,250 kg (2,756 lb) into a 185 km (115 mile) high Earth orbit. The company has said it plans to charge $12 million per launch.

Relativity Space is continuing to conduct engine tests at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The company tweeted a video of a test involving the Aeon R engine.

Meanwhile, Co-founder/CEO Tim Ellis saw an upside in the failure of LandSpace’s methane fueled Zhuque-2 rocket on Wednesday. The Chinese booster failed due to an anomaly in its second stage after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

“We have a wide-open shot at being the first methane fueled rocket to fly to orbit now with Zhuque-2 mission outcome,” Ellis tweeted. “Getting past max Q will prove our 3D printing tech handles max flight stress (already proven in ground acceptance testing) which is key for scaling to Terran R.”

Both Terran 1 and Zhuque-2 are powered by methane and liquid oxygen (LOX). A number of companies, include SpaceX, have been developing rockets that use methane instead of RP-1 and LOX.