With backing from NASA, rocket startup Relativity Space is creating the first autonomous rocket factory. The company is planning to produce 95% of rocket components with 3D printing, and the first orbital launch is expected in late 2020.
This is a guest contribution by Egor Driagin, Chief Marketing Officer at Top 3D Shop
The new agreement will provide the California-based startup with exclusive access to NASA’s infrastructure and financial aid from the Mississippi Development Authority for building a large-scale highly automated 3D printing rocket factory. The company will lease a 20,000-square-meter building at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center for nine years. The test stands and all the necessary equipment on the site allow for convenient engine testing. The agreement provides an option to extend the lease for another 10 years. The company aims to create 200 jobs and invest $59 million in the state. In exchange, the state of Mississippi offers a reimbursement of expenses and a tax incentive package.
The new factory will produce Relativity Space’s first 3D printed rocket – Terran 1. This vehicle can carry up to 2,756 lbs. into low Earth orbit. Both stages will be powered by 3D printed Aeon engines fueled by methane and liquid oxygen. The first stage will be powered by nine engines, stage two will be equipped with only one. The rocket is priced at $10 million per launch. It is expected that due to the use of the 3D printing technology the manufacturing cycle will not exceed 60 days.
Although the company is planning to construct its own launch facility, the first rockets will be launched from Cape Canaveral. The launchpad and all the supporting infrastructure will be provided by the U.S. Air Force. The company was allowed to use Launch Complex (LC) 16, which was built for tests of Titan I and Titan II, and then Pershing I and Pershing II missiles. The last launch took place there in 1988.
Most of the metal parts will be manufactured by Stargate, Relativity Space’s first 3D printer. The scalable system features multi-axis robotic arms with lasers. The machine uses metal wire feedstock as a printing material. In February 2019, Relativity Space was granted a machine learning 3D metal printing patent, issued for “real-time adaptive control of additive manufacturing processes using machine learning” (US20180341248A1).
“This agreement demonstrates again NASA’s commitment to work with our industry partners to expand commercial access to low Earth orbit. This helps NASA maintain focus on the ambitious Artemis program that will land the first female and the next male on the south pole of the Moon by 2024,” said Rick Gilbrech, director of Stennis Space Center. “Relativity is a valuable member of the Stennis federal city and we look forward to building on our already successful partnership.”
The first orbital launch is expected in 2020. The company is planning to enter the commercial market in 2021.
According to European Space Agency, ESA, “Could astronauts one day be printing rather than building a base on the Moon? In 2013 ESA, working with industrial partners, proved that 3D printing using lunar material was feasible in principle. Since then, work continues to investigate the technique. The shielding against radiation provided by a 3D-printed block of simulated lunar regolith was measured, providing important inputs for next-stage designs.”
According to ESA(Now),” astronaut Luca Parmitano has arrived on the International Space Station following a six-hour flight in the Russian Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft alongside NASA astronaut Drew Morgan and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov.”
4 years ago
This is all good except the “3d printing material” should be the regolith itself melted by focused solar energy. This way the printers could print an inexhaustible™ supply of infrastructure from roads to sinks to rail-launch systems and so on. You would want one specialized printer for printing the things that can’t be made from regolith. (control circuits, actuators, etc.)
I really hope NASA and ESA team up to explore the rest of our solar system and beyond.
Nice, would be able to put an observatory on the moon and make it a refuel station for further travel and a back up for rescue if needed also can make a shipbuilding/repair station safer launches don’t have to fight the gravity and atmosphere burn up, can also make a relay station put a full array of satellites on the moon.
It would be simpler and cheaper to ship high explosives to the moon and use them to excavate a cylindrical chamber into the side of a large crater (like building a tunnel on earth) and then seal off the end, pressurize, and occupy. Much roomier, more protection from radiation and meteor impacts. This 3-D printer idea is dull and uninspiring.
This is great news potentially. I hope one day we can live in space or the moon.
According to Engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center, “it records the test-firing of a 3D-printed combustion chamber. Researchers are exploring advanced additive manufacturing solutions, introducing higher-performing alloys and refined printing processes.”
We are curious, so from some comments,
3D printed? From what material? How?
What kind of printer? Is there a video of printing this engine?
How does one hemisphere constitute one chamber?
According to Monsi Roman, program manager for NASA’s Centennial Challenges and Lex Akers, dean of Bradley’s Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology,”The final milestone of this competition is a culmination of extremely hard work by bright, inventive minds who are helping us advance the technologies we need for a sustainable human presence on the Moon, and then on Mars. We celebrate their vision, dedication, and innovation in developing concepts that will not only further NASA’s deep-space goals, but also provide viable housing solutions right here on Earth.
It is an impressive achievement for these two teams to demonstrate this disruptive and terrific 3D-printing technology at such a large scale. By teaming up with NASA and Caterpillar, we are proud to bring these teams together in an environment where they can innovate, create and challenge our vision of what’s possible. Congratulations to both teams for their accomplishments.”
According to the NASA and SpaceX teams, “Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting anomalies like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test. The SpaceX spokesperson said. “Our teams are investigating and working closely with our NASA partners. A dispatcher at the Brevard County Emergency Operations Center said local officials were aware of the SpaceX accident at Cape Canaveral but were not aware of any risk to the public. The SuperDraco thrusters are designed to push the Crew Dragon spacecraft away from a failing rocket during launch. Each engine has a 3D-printed chamber and can produce up to 16,000 pounds of thrust, with the ability to restart multiple times”.
According to NASA,” The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge will culminate with a head-to-head subscale structure print May 1-4, 2019, and the awarding of an $800,000 prize purse. Media and the public will be invited to attend the event in Peoria, Illinois. Eleven team entries were scored and awarded points based on architectural layout, programming, efficient use of interior space, and the 3D-printing scalability and constructability of the habitat. Teams also prepared short videos providing insight into their designs as well as miniature 3D-printed models that came apart to showcase the interior design. Points were also awarded for aesthetic representation and realism. After evaluation by a panel of judges, NASA and challenge partner Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, awarded the following teams–
SEArch+/Apis Cor – New York – $33,954.11 Zopherus – Rogers, Arkansas – $33,422.01 Mars Incubator – New Haven, Connecticut – $32,623.88. Top Three Teams Share $100,000 Prize in Complete Virtual Construction Level of 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge”.
According to the comments they have some suggestions and worries about it, “I appreciate the focus on radiation protection for this habitat. It is often overlooked. I like this design the most so far. I think you could add a completely sealed basement/bunker survival cell to the lower section that sits underground, just in case. The concept is great, but the way it’s constructed would seem like it’s exposed to a lot of martian dust. How are they going to print that over 50 days without getting it full of dust? By the end it has finished printing, the inside will be a sand castle. Who will put pipes and knobs or controls in these structures plus how will you move the 3d printers to the red planet? Much better to go underground, boring equipment is already tried an tested, protection from the elements and temperature regulation will be much easier and it wouldn’t need many materials to seal it off from the outside. Brilliant design, but total fantasy. This couldn’t be built, with today’s technology, right here on Earth, with a full crew of human technicians to correct the inevitable bugs, how could this possibly work on Mars? And all the materials manufactured from Martian dirt”.
3D printing SpaceX Master Race
future of humanity.The largest metal 3D printer in the world. This 3d printer can build ‘Rockets’.
According to the CEO of Relativity Space,” Starget 3D printer can print a new rocket design just as quickly.Flying better and faster.
Stargate is constantly getting smarter and faster by using sensors and reward function-based learning”.
According to Mahmooda Sultana, Associate Branch Head, Systems Engineering Branch at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, “Mahmooda uses her love of math and puzzles to develop new technologies and miniaturize instruments for NASA missions. 3D printing allows technicians to print a suite of sensors on one platform, dramatically simplifying the integration and packaging process. These tiny platforms could be deployed on planetary rovers to detect small quantities of water and methane, for example, or be used as monitoring or biological sensors to maintain astronaut health and safety”.
The Organaut bioprinter works at the zero gravity. The FABION bioprinter, also developed by 3D Bioprinting Solutions, managed to achieve with mice cells in Earth’s gravity back in 2015. The Organs have grown in space, scientists 3D-print on ISS in the world first. The Organaut’s printed tissues were returned to Earth with the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft on December 20th, and the results of the experiment are expected to be published at the end of January 2019.
Lynn Rothschild has short brown hair and smiley eyes. She cracks jokes about biology and microscopes with ease. Diana Gentry, her decades-younger Ph.D. student, loves classic video games and vegetarian cooking. She lives near Silicon Valley. The two colleagues have a funny banter, and have spent holidays together. But they share one unique goal. They’re trying to 3D-print wood in space. Read More
NASA’s Meteorite resistant chain mail 4D Printed fabric.
NASA are stepping straight into the future of textiles with their 4D printed ‘space fabric’—a metallic material intended to be used like ‘chain mail’ to protect astronauts and spacecraft alike during their missions.The material remains fold-able and retains the ability to change shape easily.
4D print self-transformation can be more useful in future wearable technologies.:)
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.