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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 09, @09:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the competition++ dept.

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 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.

Previously: Relativity Space Leases Land at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi
Aerospace Startup Making 3D-Printed Rockets Now Has a Launch Site at America's Busiest Spaceport
Relativity Space Selected to Launch Satellites for Telesat

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  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday June 10, @04:46PM (2 children)

    by Immerman (3985) on Thursday June 10, @04:46PM (#1143936)

    Assuming you're using a Sadoway magma refinery, you could get the metal as a byproduct of extracting oxygen from the regolith, but at present there's no known ready source of lunar carbon, so you'd need to bring the methane from Earth anyway, the mass of which dwarfs the mass of the rocket itself... so there's not really a huge benefit to building the rocket on the moon. Especially since there's no valuable payload on the moon, so you're going to have to launch the rocket to Earth anyway, completely canceling the benefit of making it on the moon. Production weight is irrelevant - it's the mass that matters.

    Now, once we have a thriving orbital/Lunar/Martian economic ecosystem, then 3D printed rockets could have some serious benefits since they can eliminate much of the intermediate construction infrastructure.

    Except... maybe not so much Mars, at least in the near term. They're likely to have a glut of spaceships available for the forseeable future from all the imports form Earth, and almost nothing worth shipping back.

    And maybe not so much the moon either, since without an atmosphere linear accelerators are far more efficient than rockets for reaching orbit. They could be handy for launching payloads to the outer system... except that means either the payload needs to be made on the moon as well, likely eliminating the benefit of not needing intermediate infrastructure, or you need a rendezvous in orbit to transfer the payload from an Earth-to-orbit launcher, which is likely to be a bit of a headache, but potentially worthwhile to avoid "wasting" a much more powerful rocket launched into the outer system.

    Where it could be really handy though is the asteroid belt - if you're mining rare metals in the belt then you're likely to need a LOT of rockets to export your booty, potentially far more than the raw materials you're importing, and have plenty of common metals to print rockets from, as well as plenty of C/H/O to produce fuel.

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  • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Friday June 11, @09:17AM (1 child)

    by PiMuNu (3823) on Friday June 11, @09:17AM (#1144203)

    Interesting. Why is there no Carbon on the moon?

    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday June 11, @01:51PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Friday June 11, @01:51PM (#1144241)

      No idea, anyone else? Perhaps it's bound into heavier molecules that settled towards the core for some reason? Seems like volcanoes are a major carbon source on Earth over geologic timescales, which would suggest that something similar might happen here.

      Regardless, lunar regolith analysis has shown it to be various silicon and metal oxides - about 40% oxygen, 20% silicon, 13% iron, and progressively smaller amounts of calcium, aluminum, magnesium, and titanium, and 1% "other"

      There should be at least some carbon available from asteroids which could be excavated from impact craters, but that's a much more involved endeavor than just scooping up regolith into electrolytic magma refineries to extract oxygen, steel, etc.

      It may well be that any lunar colony has fossil fuels as one of its major imports - not for energy, but as a conveniently dense source of the carbon and hydrogen necessary for a growing ecology.