It may very well be that NASA is one step closer to putting a man on the Red Planet. NASA plans on sending a 3-D printed rocket to Mars, as part of their initiative to find cheaper and viable solutions to space transportation.
Elizabeth Robertson, the big chief in charge of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center from Huntsville has announced that NASA was successful in performing several tests on 3-D printed rockets components.
According to early estimates, it would seem that the behemoth engine will be capable of producing around 90000 RPMs, which means that the engine can develop over 20000 pounds of thrust. And what it’s, even more amazing is that all the parts were entirely manufactured by an industrial 3-D printer.
Robertson added that she and her team of engineers have performed a total number of 7 tests on approximately 75 percent of the printed components. In the last three years, the North American space agency has managed to cut deals with several vendors around the country in order to manufacture several key components such as valves, turbopumps, and injectors.
The same space flight manager from Alabama also added that the newly-designed components could be used for any number of space applications, including in-space propulsion systems, landers, and rockets necessary for upper stage take-off.
The new engine named a breadboard engine, has been submitted to several tests in order to see how the 3-D printed parts behave in space-like conditions. Nick Case, an engineer working for the space agency was placed in charge of the tests.
According to his statement, the components have been submitted to 7 consecutive tests, the longest test exceeding 10 seconds. The team of engineers wanted to see how the components react when fuel in burned in the engine’s inner gas chambers. And so one of the tests consisted of pumping in several gallons of hot steaming jet fuel, whose temperature exceeded 3000 degrees Celsius.
All of the engine’s components passed the tests with flying color and NASA grows more confident by each passing day. If all lights are green, then the space agency could employ the 3-D printing technique in order to fashion much more complex machinery, needed for the Mars mission.
And it would seem that the new technique has even an economical aspect. Case explained that the most complex component in a rocket’s engine is the turbopump. But by using the 3-D printed technique, the engineers were able to fashion a durable turbopump using 45 percent fewer parts than with traditional welding techniques.