Featured image credit: Trevor Mahlmann | Relativity Space
|March 23, 2023 – 02:00-05:00 UTC|
March 22, 2023 – 22:00-01:00 EDT
|Good Luck, Have Fun (GLHF)|
|Launch Complex 16 (LC-16), Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, USA|
|There is no payload on this test launch except a 3D printed metal ring weighing ~1.5 kg (~ 3.3 lb)|
Where is the satellite going?
|200 x 210 km LEO at 28.5° inclination|
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
|No, this is not a capability of Terran 1|
Where will the first stage land?
|It will crash into the Atlantic Ocean|
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
Are these fairings new?
How’s the weather looking?
|The weather is currently 90% GO for launch (as of March 20, 20023 – 13:30 UTC)|
This will be the:
|– 1st mission for Relativitiy |
– 1st launch from SLC-16 in 35 years
– 3rd launch attempt of Terran 1
– 1st launch of Terran 1
– 1st launch of a 3D printed rocket
– 43rd orbital launch attempt of 2023
Where to watch
Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, will be streaming at around T-30 minutes; come ask questions and join the conversation live!
What Does All This Mean?
Good Luck, Have Fun (GLHF) is Relativity Space’s first mission taking off from Launch Complex 16 (LC-16) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, USA. This launch will be the first 3D printed rocket to ever take to the skies. Since this is a test flight for the company to prove Terran 1’s capabilities, there’s only a small 3D printed metal plug under the nose cone and no real payload. After the failed maiden flight of the Chinese Zhuque-2, Relativity Space is taking a shot at the title of getting the first methane powered rocket into orbit.
Good Luck, Have Fun
Good Luck, Have Fun (GLHF) is Relativity Space’s first ever mission with its 3D printed Terran 1 rocket. The mission’s goal is to test the rocket’s capabilities to reach orbit. Instead of a more traditional fairing on top of the rocket’s second stage Terran 1 is sporting a non-deployable nose cone that lets the rocket look more like a side booster of a bigger one like Falcon Heavy. While GLHF will not carry any payload to orbit there’s a 16.5 cm aluminum ring positioned underneath the nose cone. The ring – printed by the company’s first generation metal 3D printer – pays homage to the journey leading up to Terran 1’s first launch.
|– 07:00:00||Vehicle Power Up and Checkouts|
|– 04:00:00||Pad Clear and Propellant Loading Starts|
|– 01:00:00||Automated Countdown Sequence Begins|
|– 01:00:00||Webcast Starts|
|– 00:27:00||Range Readiness Check (USAF & Coast Guard)|
|– 00:16:00||Launch Director Go/No-Go Poll|
|– 00:10:00||T-10 min Countdown Starts (Engine Chill, Priming Igniters, Transition to Internal Power, Strong Back Retract, etc.)|
|– 00:01:10||Terminal Count – Checking Launch Commit Criteria|
|– 00:00:06||Aeon Engine Ignition|
|+ 00:00:12||Pitch Down Range|
|+ 00:02:40||Main Engine Cut Off (MECO)|
|+ 00:02:45||Stage Separation|
|+ 00:02:51||Second Engine Start (SES)|
|+ 00:07:43||Second Engine Cut Off (SECO)|
|+ 00:08:00||Terran 1 in Orbit|
What Is Terran 1?
Relativity Space’s Terran 1 is an expendable small-lift launch vehicle designed and developed specifically to place small satellites into LEO and Sun-synchronous orbits (SSO). Terran 1 is a two stage methalox powered rocket usually standing 35 m (115 ft) tall with a diameter of 2.3 m (7.5 ft). On the company’s first mission Good Luck, Have Fun, Terran 1 is only 33.5 m (110 ft) in height because of the lack of a payload fairing that was replaced by a nose cone, because there is no payload on this test flight.
Unique about this rocket is that 85% of its mass is being 3D printed by Relativity Space’s metal 3D printer Stargate. Stargate is the largest metal 3D printer that produces the rocket’s tanks made from a proprietary aluminum alloy. Metal 3D printing has been utilized by many new space launch providers printing complex parts, mostly for their engines. Relativity Space is taking it a step further by not only 3D printing large parts of their engines, but also printing the tanks of Terran 1, which reduces the overall part count and complexity of the rocket. Terran 1 is designed with a target payload capacity of up to 1,250 kg to a 185 km LEO and 900 kg to a 500 km SSO.
First And Second Stage
|First Stage||Second Stage|
|Engine||9 Aeon-1 engines||1 vacuum optimized AeonVac engine|
|Thrust Per Engine (Sea level | Vacuum)||100 kN (22,480 lbf) | 113 kN (25,400 lbf)||125.8 kN (28,300 lbf)|
Terran 1’s first stage is composed of 3D printed common bulkhead tanks for propellant, as well as a 3D printed interstage containing the pneumatic pusher stage separation system. The first stage is powered by nine Aeon-1 engines producing a total of 900 kN (~200,000 lbf) at lift off with a maximum thrust of ~ 1 MN in a vacuum. Like the first stage, the second stage also consists of 3D printed tanks for propellant featuring common tank bulkheads and is powered by a single vacuum optimized AeonVac engine. The main difference between these two variations of the Aeon engine is that the latter has an expanded nozzle that results in improved performance in near-vacuum conditions with an expansion ratio of 165:1.
Terran 1 is powered by ten Aeon-1 engines, with one of them being located on the second stage. Aeon-1 engines, designed and built in-house by Relativity Space are methalox engines meaning they use methane as fuel and oxygen as their oxidizer. To be more precise, the Aeon-1 engine runs on LNG (liquid natural gas), which consists of 97% methane with the other 3% being other natural gases.
Just like Terran 1’s tanks, the majority of the Aeon-1 engine is 3D printed allowing for creating complex inner structures. With two turbopump assemblies, one for LNG and one for LOx, Aeon-1 engines run on a gas generator open cycle, with the combustion chambers being regeneratively cooled by pumping LNG through the walls of the engine.
Relativity Space was founded back in 2015 by Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone, with its headquarters located in Long Beach, California. They founded the new space company with the idea of building the first 3D printed rocket to reach space. After six funding rounds, Relativity Space secured over $1.3 billion of funding supporting the development of their expendable small lift rocket Terran 1, as well as their fully reusable medium lift rocket Terran R.
Today, Relativity Space employs over 700 people across its six locations – Long Beach, Stennis, Cape Canaveral, Washington D.C. Vandenberg, and Seattle. With an engine test center at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, an operational launch site at LC-16 at CCSFS and a planned one at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Relativity Space is one of the fastest expanding new space companies aiming for full reusability with their second rocket – Terran R.
Future Of Relativity Space – Terran R
Before Relativity Space’s maiden launch of its first rocket, Terran 1, the company already announced a fully reusable launch vehicle – Terran R. This medium lift launch vehicle will be designed to carry over 20,000 kg of payload into LEO, while being fully reusable, putting it in the same class of rocket as SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Just like Terran 1, Terran R will be 3D printed by the company’s 4th generation Stargate metal 3D printer.
Equipped with seven LNG burning Aeon-R engines on the first stage and one vacuum optimized one on the upper stage, the vehicle is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral as early as 2024.