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Weather conditions are likely to be excellent for the launch of a new rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station this week, military department forecasters said over the weekend.
If conditions hold, Relativity Space’s Terran 1 rocket, the first developed using mainly 3D printing techniques, will face 90% “go” conditions for liftoff from Cape’s Launch Complex 16. The mission called “Good Luck, Have Fun” or “GLHF,” is set to depart during a three-hour period that opens at 1:00 PM EST Wednesday March 8th.
“A weak backdoor cold front will push through from the northeast Wednesday morning, perhaps with a light shower or two, but certainly with an increase in low cloud cover and northeasterly winds,” the Space Launch Delta 45 forecasters said Sunday. “The threat of precipitation is expected to be over by the opening of the primary launch window Wednesday afternoon, but cloud cover is likely to linger through the front half of the window.”
Conditions at the Cape should hover around 78 degrees at 58% humidity under the window. In the event of a delay to the next option, which falls in the same window Thursday, the weather would improve to 95% “go,” the Space Force said.
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Because it is the 110-foot Terran 1 rocket’s demonstration flight, the mission will not include a customer payload. Relativity said that when launched, it will be the largest 3D-printed object to attempt an orbital mission. About 85% of the rocket’s mass is 3D printed; Relativity hopes to increase that to 95% for future rockets.
The Terran is a relatively small rocket, but Relativity also plans to build a larger version called the Terran R. It would compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V and Vulcan Centaur, the latter of which is set for its flight with a lunar lander on May 4th.
Terran’s components are printed and assembled at the company’s massive 1 million square foot headquarters in Long Beach, California, before being transported to Florida via semi-trailer. It uses nine Aeon engines on the first stage, one on the upper stage and a mixture of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquid oxygen (LOX) as propellants.
At the Cape’s Launch Complex 40, meanwhile, SpaceX is set to launch another Falcon 9 rocket just one day after Relativity. The teams are tentatively scheduled to launch another batch of OneWeb Internet satellites sometime after 13 EST on Thursday, March 9, but SpaceX has yet to confirm the existence of the mission – only federal filings indicate that the team is pushing forward with this attempt.
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Contact Emre Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly.