Browse the latest news about Southern California's space and aerospace startups from dot.LA.
Photo: Relativity Space

The largest 3D-printed object to ever fly had liftoff yesterday as Long Beach-based Relativity Space launched its Terran 1 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Terran 1 lifted off from Cape Canaveral at around 7 p.m. PST March 22. It was Relativity’s third attempt at sending Terran 1 to the cosmos and the nighttime launch was quite a sight to behold. The clarity of the night sky was perfect to see the blue jets of flame cascading out of Terran 1’s nine Aeon 1 engines, all 3D-printed, as the rocket took off.

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Image courtesy of Virgin Orbit

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Workers at satellite startup Virgin Orbit are reeling after learning they were furloughed, forced to stop work indefinitely since the company is fast running out of cash.

Virgin Orbit paused all operations March 16, furloughing all of its more than 750 employees. It’s reportedly scrambling to avoid a bankruptcy filing. The company was founded in 2017 by billionaire Richard Branson.

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Photo: Impulse Space

Building a spacecraft is no simple feat. Which is why historically, most manufacturers have opted to contract outside firms to handle constructing parts of their rockets, sacrificing in-house oversight for speed as they rush towards lucrative contracts to stay afloat.

But SpaceX’s track record of launches has inspired other startups to build their own spacecraft in-house. The company proved it could make vertical integration work, and that by controlling all facets of the product’s life cycle – all the way from design to assembly to testing and launch –it could drive down costs because the company’s divisions were sharing infrastructure and equipment.

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