Misc: More about Relativity Space + Printing metal components in micro-g + Sea Launch needs a rocket

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April 29, 2018

Another article profiling Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone, founders of Relativity Space, and the 3D printing technology the company is developing to make rockets: Entrepreneur seeks to boldly go where no one has gone before: 3-D printing nearly an entire rocket – LA Times

[Ellis] is the chief executive of Inglewood space start-up Relativity Space, which is trying to push the bounds of automated rocket production with robotics and 3-D printing. About 95% of the company’s rocket — which will be able to carry up to 2,755 pounds to low-Earth orbit — will be 3-D printed, the founders say, excluding items such as electronics and rubber seals.

A German research institute demonstrates 3D printing of a metal item in weightlessness during parabolic flights: Metal Tool 3D-Printed in Zero Gravity – MRO Network.

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The attempt to restart Sea Launch is turning out to be a lot harder than the buyers expected:

From RussianSpaceWeb:

S7 Group quoted its Director General Sergei Sopov claiming the company’s intention to resume launch activities as soon as possible and promising four launches per year. Sopov also forecasted around 70 launches in the next 15 years. The announcement of the deal made no mention of the continuous deadlock in the production of the Zenit rocket in Ukraine or the fact that the Russian replacement to the Zenit was still on the drawing board and was not officially scheduled for launch until 2022. Moreover, given the current realities of the Russian space industry, the new rocket most likely would not fly until the middle or even the second half of the 2020s. The absurdity of the situation was underscored by Yuri Koptev, the Head of the Scientific and Technical Council at Roskosmos, who just a day before the Sea Launch announcement, essentially admitted that without restoring the relations between Russia and Ukraine, the Zenit’s future was bleak.

For all practical purposes, S7 Group found itself with expensive infrastructure on its balance sheet, but no compatible rocket to launch and no customers to serve.

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