No one expects college kids to beat NASA to the punch. On Saturday, students at University of California San Diego launched a rocket with a completely 3D-printed engine. Students for the Exploration and Development of Space claims to be the first university group to do this. Watch it fly!
Here it is again, filmed from a drone.
Their rocket, dubbed Vulcan-1, is 19 feet long, 8 inches in diameter, and capable of 750 pounds of thrust. It's powered by a cryogenic combination of liquid oxygen and refined kerosene. The rocket traveled approximately 4000 feet.
NASA's been working on 3D-printing rocket engines for some time now. Last winter they put some 3D-printed parts through a fiery test. The private space industry, too, is working on rockets with 3D printedcomponents. In 2014, SpaceX's Falcon 9 launched with a 3D-printed valve. But as far as we know, this is the first time a student-made completely 3D-printed rocket has blasted off. (Bagaveev Corporation, one of the project's Kickstarter sponsors, was the first to launch a fully 3D printed rocket engine that the San Diego team knows of.)