3D-Printed Rocket Pioneers Aim for the Stars with Bigger, Reusable Launch Vehicle

3D-Printed Rocket Pioneers Aim for the Stars with Bigger, Reusable Launch Vehicle

Table of Content

In this article, we’ll explore why Relativity Space chose to prioritize the development of a larger, reusable 3D-printed rocket, called Terran R, in order to enter the commercial launch market and rival established industry leaders such as SpaceX.

Key Takeaways:

  • Relativity Space successfully launched the world’s first 3D-printed rocket, Terran 1, despite not reaching orbit.
  • The company is now shifting its focus to Terran R, a larger, reusable rocket with the first commercial launches set for 2026.
  • Terran R aims to meet growing market demand and support missions from Earth to the moon, Mars, and beyond.
  • Relativity Space has already signed $1.65 billion worth of commercial launch contracts for Terran R.

Terran 1: Paving the Way for 3D-Printed Rockets

In an extraordinary display of innovation, Relativity Space, a California-based aerospace startup, successfully launched Terran 1 on March 22. 

Terran 1, the world’s first 3D-printed rocket, took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, marking a significant milestone for the future of space technology.

Although Terran 1 did not achieve orbit due to an engine failure, the test flight demonstrated that 3D-printed rockets can withstand the rigors of space travel. 

This groundbreaking feat has opened up new possibilities for more efficient, cost-effective rocket manufacturing.

Terran 1 is a rocket that CEO Tim Ellis said is like a futuristic car, because it uses a lot of new technology that hasn’t been seen before. 

The first flight of Terran 1 will teach scientists and engineers a lot, and they can use what they learn to make even better rockets in the future.

Introducing Terran R: The Next Generation of 3D-Printed Rockets

Now, Relativity Space is setting its sights even higher with Terran R, a larger, reusable 3D-printed rocket designed to compete with industry titans like SpaceX.

The corporation has big goals for Terran R, and it intends to begin selling it in 2026. This rocket can transport up to 23,500 kilograms in low Earth orbit, similar to SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

One key innovation behind Terran R is its reusability, an essential factor for reducing costs and increasing efficiency in the space industry. 

The rocket’s first stage is designed to be reusable, with up to 20 re-flights planned, further enhancing its cost-effectiveness.

Terran R also aims to support missions beyond Earth, eventually offering customers a point-to-point space freighter capable of traveling to the moon, Mars, and beyond. 

This aligns with Relativity Space’s mission to build humanity’s multiplanetary future.

Tackling the Commercial Satellite Launch Market

SpaceX and its Falcon 9 rocket are currently the top players in the commercial satellite launch industry. 

However, with the development of Terran R, Relativity Space hopes to challenge this dominance and carve out a significant share of the market.

Satellite operators often face long wait times for a spot on SpaceX or Arianespace rockets. Relativity Space aims to accelerate the timeline with its 3D-printed rockets, which are less costly to produce and fly.

The company has already signed commercial launch contracts worth $1.65 billion for Terran R, indicating a strong demand for their innovative approach to rocket manufacturing.

A Bright Future for Relativity Space and 3D-Printed Rocket Technology

Relativity Space’s journey has been nothing short of remarkable. 

From the successful launch of Terran 1 to the ambitious plans for Terran R, the company has proven that 3D-printed rockets are not just a novel concept but a viable alternative to traditional rocket manufacturing.

The use of 3D printing technology has several advantages, including reduced production times, lower costs, and increased flexibility in design. 

This makes it a perfect fit for the rapidly evolving space industry, where efficiency and adaptability are crucial for success.

Moreover, the company’s focus on reusability and its vision for a multiplanetary future demonstrate a long-term commitment to sustainable space exploration. 

As more companies join the race to commercialize space travel, Relativity Space’s innovative approach to rocket manufacturing sets them apart from the competition.


Relativity Space has demonstrated the potential of 3D-printed rocket technology with the successful test flight of Terran 1. 

Now, they are moving forward to develop Terran R, a larger and reusable rocket designed to compete in the commercial satellite launch market. 

With billions of dollars in contracts already signed, the company is poised to take a significant step towards a multiplanetary future.


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Judith Harvey is a seasoned finance editor with over two decades of experience in the financial journalism industry. Her analytical skills and keen insight into market trends quickly made her a sought-after expert in financial reporting.