Deep in the Mojave Desert, students from the University of California, San Diego, launched their Vulcan-1, a liquid-fueled rocket featuring an engine totally made of 3D-printed parts. The launch on Saturday, May 21, was the result of more than 100,000 collective hours of work by members of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).
The project, known as “Tri-D,” was started in 2013. In preparation for their test launch last year, SEDS founder Deepak Atyam told Space.com: “The engine team was working day and night, 12 and sometimes more hours per day for almost two weeks.”
Although the rocket was more of a proof-of-concept, and didn't actually make it to space, the SEDS team has high hopes to launch small satellites into orbit someday.
NASA and ESA have both been testing out 3D-printed parts for their rockets and satellites for a few years now, so as Popular Science highlights, it’s rather hazy whether this is a world first. Nevertheless, the team are likely the first group of students to successfully launch a rocket with an engine that's entirely 3D-printed.
Check out their launch in the video below.