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Thread: Relativity Space

  1. #1
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    Relativity Space

    SpaceX is about to get a competitor in the USA - Relativity Space

    "Relativity Space unveils a reusable, 3D-printed rocket to compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9"

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/25/rela...-falcon-9.html

    Relativity Space, the 3D-printing rocket builder, is making another big bet: Developing a fully reusable rocket, designed to match the power and capability of SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rockets.

    Called Terran R, the reusable rocket is “really an obvious evolution” from the company’s Terran 1 rocket, Relativity CEO Tim Ellis told CNBC – the latter of which Relativity expects to launch for the first time later in 2021.

    “It’s the same architecture, the same propellant, the same factory, the same 3D printers, the same avionics and the same team,” Ellis said.
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    SpaceX is about to get a competitor in the USA - Relativity Space
    Launch one and then we'll see how much of a competitor you are to SpaceX.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Launch one and then we'll see how much of a competitor you are to SpaceX.
    Indeed. Launch something. Rocket Lab didn't even consider reuse until they were delivering payloads to orbit.

    This new announcement kind of points out some major issues with Relativity's business plan. 3D printing is not an effective approach to construction of rocket tanks and primary structures. You're literally squeezing the entire rocket out through a tiny nozzle. Physically large, geometrically simple, high-aspect parts with tight tolerances and stringent defect requirements are a pathological case for 3D printing...they're a great demo of capability, but it's basically just showing off. Printing rocket tanks will be very, very slow and will tie up very expensive machines that could instead be producing parts that actually benefit, while delivering a mediocre product that will likely require substantial touch-up work to be useful. And that's not even considering the material limitations...

    Reuse would ameliorate the high production cost and low production rate, but part of the rationale for 3D printing was that it would allow rapid customization of the vehicle at the level of individual launches. You can only do that if you're not reusing it. The "3D print everything" plan is still an obvious gimmick, not a technological innovation. (And a rather odd one, since the technology they're using should be just as capable of printing onto non-printed components, combining the best of both worlds.)

    The focus on 3D printing launch vehicles is also oddly narrow. Of all the possible applications of the technology, this is what they focus on?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Launch one and then we'll see how much of a competitor you are to SpaceX.
    Yes, I was thinking the same thing. I’d be happy to see another Newspace innovative competitor to SpaceX, but I’ll wait and see if they can actually manage it.

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