A team of Nasa engineers has inched closer to building a completely 3D printed, high performance rocket engine by manufacturing complex engine parts and test firing them together with cryogenic liquid hydrogen and oxygen to produce 20,000 pounds of thrust.
The team from Nasa’s Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama tested 3D printed rocket engine parts connected together in the same fashion that they would work in a rocket engine.
The parts performance rivalled that of traditionally manufactured engine parts. During six separate tests, the engine generated up to 20,000 pounds of thrust.
“We manufactured and then tested about 75 percent of the parts needed to build a 3D printed rocket engine,” said Elizabeth Robertson, project manager at Nasa.
“By testing the turbo pumps, injectors and valves together, we’ve shown that it would be possible to build a 3D printed engine for multiple purposes such as landers, in-space propulsion or rocket engine upper stages,” Robertson explained in a statement.