NASA successfully tests 3D printed rocket engine part

The space agency is undertaking a series of tests with parts made using advanced manufacturing techniques that will make building future engines more affordable.

0 January 29, 2018
Staff

NASA engineers have tested of another RS-25 engine flight controller that includes a 3D printed component.

NASA rocket flight controller 3D printing

Image Credit: NASA

The 365-second, full-duration test came a month after the space agency capped a year of RS-25 testing with a flight controller test in mid-December.

The space agency is undertaking a series of tests with parts made using advanced manufacturing techniques that will make building future engines more affordable.

In order to test this part, the flight controller was installed on RS-25 developmental engine E0528 and fired as if it was an actual launch. NASA intends to install the flight controller on a flight engine that will be used in the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA’s new deep-space rocket. The rocket will be powered by four RS-25 engines firing simultaneously to generate 2 million pounds of thrust and working in conjunction with a pair of solid rocket boosters to produce more than 8 million pounds of thrust.

NASA’s 3D printed flight controller is used to beef up the RS-25 engines and provide the additional power needed by the larger SLS rocket. The flight controller acts as the RS-25 “brain,” helping the engine communicate with the SLS rocket and providing precision control of engine operation and internal health diagnostics.

The initial SLS Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) will serve as the first test flight for the new rocket and will carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft. Current engine tests are for controllers for Exploration Mission-2, the first flight that will transport astronauts aboard Orion.

In addition to testing the engines for those flights at Stennis, NASA is preparing the B-2 Test Stand at the center to test the entire SLS core stage with its four engines for EM-1.

RS-25 tests at Stennis are conducted by a team of NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Syncom Space Services engineers and operators. Aerojet Rocketdyne is the RS-25 prime contractor. Syncom Space Services is the prime contractor for Stennis facilities and operations.

www.nasa.gov


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