Dec 24, 2015 | By Alec

If you are at all interested in technology, it would’ve been impossible to miss one of the biggest breakthroughs in aerospace history this week, which has been achieved by private developer SpaceX. Just a few days ago, SpaceX launched their huge Falcon 9 rocket into space, before returning it to earth. Returning to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Staten in Florida, the rocket made a perfect vertical landing – the first rocket in aerospace history to do so while returning from space. To honor that occasion, former SpaceX intern Andrew has just shared a huge 3D printable tribute replica of the Falcon 9, which you can now print at home.

Of course, this achievement of the fifteen-story tall Falcon 9 is groundbreaking in many ways. For starters, it was the first success after several failed launches (which involved floating pads for landing). While other rockets have successfully landed before, this is the first time one returned from space. On June 28, a SpaceX rocket even exploded during launch, prompting the company to upgrade a number of elements – increased boost thrust, a deep cryo oxidizer and more. It was also quite a close call – SpaceX founder Elon Musk initially even believed that the rocket had exploded. “I ran out on the causeway just to watch the landing, and the sonic boom reached me just as the rocket touched down, so I thought at first the rocket exploded,” he told reporters after the success. “Then I went back into launch control and saw [this] amazing video of the rocket on the pad. I can’t quite believe it.”

But with this success, they can now pave the way to significant cost saving reusable rockets. Currently, all rockets are single-use only, with the costs of the rockets far outweighing that of the fuel they bring to the table. The Falcon 9 cost approximately $16 million to make, with the fuel it provides for a launch costing just $200,000. Reusable rockets would thus greatly reduce the costs involved with space travel, making the Mission to Mars (or even plans for asteroid mining) far more affordable than previously thought.

However, this success story is also partly a 3D printing success story. SpaceX has been heavily relying on 3D printing throughout the design of their rocket fleet. As we learnt last month, embraced 3D printing technology to design their SuperDraco engines, in order to cut down on cost, waste, and make the production process more flexible in general. A key component of the engine on those rockets, known as the combustion chamber, was fabricated entirely with 3D printing on an EOS metal 3D printer. Even this Falcon 9 which is dominating headlines, includes a few 3D printed parts.

A fantastic 3D printed tribute.

In that respect, a 3D printed tribute is perfectly fitting for this achievement. This 3D printed version of the Falcon 9 was designed by Andrew, who goes by enderfusion (from Cosine Additive) online. He actually worked at SpaceX as an intern for a while, and quite possibly used that experience to design his detailed 3D printable replica of this historic spacecraft. You can download the model from Thingiverse here. While it is quite big, it definitely looks like a fun 3D printing project for over the holidays.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


Fernando35 wrote at 12/25/2015 4:45:13 PM:

I believe some of this reporting needs additional information or research to make some of these claims -- "the first rocket in aerospace history to do so while returning from space". Space is technically as the Karman line, which is 62 miles. According to that, this article is not correct then since Blue Origin achieved this previously.

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive