Relativity Space reveals fully reusable medium lift launch vehicle Terran R
Relativity Space, leveraging their 3D printing technology, has announced the next step towards supporting multiplanetary… The post Relativity Space reveals fully reusable medium lift launch vehicle Terran R appeared first on NASASpaceFlight.com.
Relativity Space, leveraging their 3D printing technology, has announced the next step towards supporting multiplanetary spaceflight: a fully reusable, medium lift launch vehicle named Terran R.
The company’s second launch vehicle, succeeding the Terran 1 rocket to debut later this year, will have more payload capacity than the partially reusable SpaceX Falcon 9, and is only the second fully reusable commercial launch vehicle to be revealed publicly after SpaceX’s Starship.
The two stage Terran R rocket will be 216 feet (65.8 meters) tall and 16 feet (4.9 meters) in diameter. The second stage features aerodynamic surfaces which will enable recovery and reuse, in addition to a reusable 5 meter diameter payload fairing. Terran R will be capable of delivering over 20,000 kilograms to Low Earth Orbit in its reusable configuration, beating Falcon 9’s 15,600 kilograms with drone ship recovery.
Just like Terran 1, Relativity’s small lift vehicle offering 1,250 kilograms to Low Earth Orbit, the components for Terran R will be 3D printed. Relativity Space aims to reduce cost and improve reliability by designing 3D printed vehicles with a low part count.
“Together with our first rocket Terran 1, our second product, Terran R, will continue to take advantage of Relativity’s disruptive approach to 3D printing – reduced part count, improved speed of innovation, flexibility, and reliability,” said Tim Ellis, CEO and co-founder of Relativity Space.Relativity Space Updates
What differentiates Terran R from its predecessor is reusability and size. Terran 1 is a fully expendable small lift launch vehicle, while Terran R with full reusability is firmly in the medium lift launch market. Compared to the partially reusable Falcon rocket family, Terran R will offer a payload capacity between that of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.
Powering the first stage of Terran R will be seven Aeon R rocket engines, generating 302,000 lb (1,343 kN) of thrust each. The Aeon R engine is a scaled up, high pressure version of the gas generator cycle Aeon 1 engine to be used on Terran 1’s first stage.
The upper stage of Terran R will utilize the same Aeon Vacuum engine as Terran 1’s second stage. A pathfinder Aeon Vacuum engine completed full duration testing earlier this year at Relativity’s engine testing facilities at the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Like almost all components on the Terran launch vehicles, the Aeon engines are all 3D printed.
Both Terran launch vehicles are fueled by liquid methane and liquid oxygen, alongside several next generation American commercial launch vehicles such as SpaceX‘s Starship, Blue Origin‘s New Glenn, and United Launch Alliance‘s Vulcan rockets.
Terran R is scheduled to debut in 2024. The vehicle will utilize the same launch pad as Terran 1, debuting later this year: Launch Complex 16 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
SLC-20 – Firefly Aerospace
SLC-16 – Relativity. This pad is coming along very well, I cannot wait to see launches from it. pic.twitter.com/n4zEBLIa3N
— Harry Stranger (@HarryStrangerPG) May 4, 2021
Relativity has continued to prepare the launch site for operations with the installation of propellant tanks and a flare stack, and a lightning protection system.
Relativity Space also announced that its first customer launch contract for Terran R has been signed. “Over the last year, we found ourselves being asked by the market to accelerate development of our larger launch vehicle,” said Ellis. “So we knew it was time to double down on our existing plans and scale the Terran R program even faster and build production capabilities at scale sooner.”
Terran R is intended to enable missions between Earth, the moon, and Mars. “Terran R will be well suited to serve customers’ evolving needs in the large satellite constellation industry,” said Zach Dunn, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Manufacturing at Relativity Space and former SpaceX engineer, “while also representing a significant leap towards achieving our mission of building humanity’s industrial base off of Earth.”
Combining reusability and additive manufacturing is aligned with Relativity’s long term goal of enabling a permanent human presence on Mars. CEO Ellis said “Relativity was founded with the mission to 3D print entire rockets and build humanity’s industrial base on Mars. We were inspired to make this vision a reality, and believe there needs to be dozens to hundreds of companies working to build humanity’s multiplanetary future on Mars.”
“Scalable, autonomous 3D printing is inevitably required to thrive on Mars, and Terran R is the second product step in a long-term journey Relativity is planning ahead.”
The first step on that journey, Terran 1, is still on schedule to debut in 2021, with more than 85% of the first flight vehicle now 3D printed. Terran 1 has acquired launch contracts from the US Department of Defense, NASA, and commercial customers Iridium and Telesat.
The same manufacturing architecture that produces Terran 1 hardware will be used to produce Terran R. This scaling will be supported by a $650 million Series E equity funding round from both new and existing Relativity Space investors.
(Lead render via Relativity Space)
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