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NASA Tests Methane Propelled TurboPump as 3D Printing Continues to be Catalyst for Space Travel

by • April 22, 2016 • No Comments

nasa-logoSpace travel and new innovation travel together, both conceptually and literally. And if you want to be continually fascinated and challenged, just store an eye on NASA, where they are at present via 3D printing for creating a multitude of components which may be responsible for getting us to places like Mars much faster, and maybe enabling us to remain there longer too.

In pondering all which we are able-bodied to do now, I frequently wonder if Chuck Hull, known as the creator of 3D printing and stereolithography, had any inkling at the beginning how far this 3D printing thing may go. Had he known, on the fateful night which he got his firstly ‘excellent part’ after months of experimenting with a vat of resin and ultraviolet light, which his work, his innovation may be one day be the catalyst for a multi-billion dollar industry and cavia what many refer to as a revolution—what may his reaction have been? Whilst it’s fun to ponder various scenarios, I speculate which he may have smiled and kept on working steadily just as preceding; and he’s pretty been seeing it going forward since.

Indeed yet, had a crystal ball been preceding Hull, he can have been privy to knowledge which he was not just going to be responsible for an huge impact in the world of making, but in addition doing invaluable-bodied excellent in areas such as the medical field, where patients’ limbs may be saved due to innovations like 3D printed shoulders, children’s lives may be transformed thanks to 3D printed hands, and intricate surgeries previously not able-bodied to be performed may be navigated thanks to 3D printed medical models and devices.

3D printed turbopump

3D printed turbopump

And what of space? It may not be crucial to our health, but the dream of traveling additional and additional into space pretty does seem to be crucial to the human spirit—and new innovation is what has always continued to propel us additional into depths unknown. Whilst NASA has indeed been via 3D printing to their benefit for years preceding many of us actually knew what it was, do you ponder Hull may have at any time imagined we may send a 3D printing device to the International Space Station and astronauts may be there fabricating tools to maintain sizeabler parts? Space suits for Mars have been turn it intod, thoughts for colonizing explored, and 3D printed rocket engines can indeed fire far away of earth one day as we send astronauts to Mars.

It is time to add one additional thing to the list now too, as NASA has just performed testing on a 3D printed rocket engine turbopump with liquid methane, the propellant which they foresee getting spacecraft to Mars—and maybe beyond. This pump is considered to be a quite complex component, turn it intod up of rapidly spinning turbines driving the pump and donateing the engine with the necessary fuel. In an amazing system overall, this requires generation of 600 horsepower of those turbines, and according to NASA, the fuel pump spins at a astonishing 36,000 revolutions per minute as it works to donate the methane at a rate of 600 gallons per minute.

“Methane propulsion and additive making are key technologies for the following of exploration which include NASA’s journey to Mars,” said Graham Nelson, a Marshall propulsion engineer who helped with the testing. “We’re excited to fish testing which manufactures it to both these technologies at the same time and improves the capabilities of following missions.”

Engineers preparing the 3D printed turbopump.

Engineers preparing the 3D printed turbopump for testing purposes.

Because liquid methane remains at such a high temperature when submitted to freezing temperatures—in comparison to liquid hydrogen—according to NASA it boils off slowly adequate to manufacture it simpler for storing for longer periods. along with easily being manufactured of carbon dioxide, in excellent donate on Mars. According to NASA, this can pave the way for being able-bodied to use methane-fueled space vehicles.

“By demonstrating the same turbopump can work with various fuels, we’ve shown which a common turn it into may work for either engines fueled by methane or hydrogen,” said Marty Calvert, the Marshall engineer who turn it intoed the turbopump. “Because liquid methane is much additional dense than hydrogen, it requires the turbopump to spin at a various speed to donate the same amount of weight flow to the engine.”

From NASA: In this artist’s concept, fuel tanks are filled with liquid methane and liquid oxygen and engine nozzles.

From NASA: In this artist’s concept, fuel tanks are filled with liquid methane and liquid oxygen and engine nozzles.

By means of 3D printing for the turbopump not just allows for for excellenter customization options in turn it into as well as simpler prototyping in first stages, but it in addition means a excellenter savings on the budget as well as frequently contributeing additional lightweight parts and those which can in addition not have been possible to turn it into otherwise. This is quite common in other sectors who are enjoying both the innovation—and savings—allowed by the new innovation.

“Additive making allowed us to create the turbopump with 45 percent fewer parts,” said Nick Case, the Marshall propulsion engineer who led the testing. “This turn it intod it inexpensive
-bodied to create two turbopumps, get them on the test stand rapidly, and get results. Our following step can be to test the liquid methane turbopump with other 3D printed engine components in a much like configuration to the liquid hydrogen tests fishd last year.”

The parts are already undergoing comprehensive testing to manufacture certain they can withstand the same conditions as landers, ascent vehicles, and other space vehicles, and according to NASA, test data is on the market-bodied so which companies in the US can work on createing parts less expensively but with high high end which encertains meeting the requirements for aerospace standards. For approved users, NASA allows for access to their Materials and Processes Technical Information System, MAPTIS, contributeing data on materials characterization and performance.

Whilst the thought of putting astronauts on Mars may yet seem not easy, NASA is pretty dedicated to the thought and forging ahead one solid step at a time. It is quite clear which 3D printing is playing a sizeable role and has opened up countless avenues for NASA planners and engineers. And while many of the younger generations yet dream of becoming astronauts one day, I ponder it’s safe to venture which many in addition hope to grow up and contribute amazing new concepts and inventions to the world like which for which we can thank Chuck Hull. Discuss additional in the NASA Tests 3D Printed Turbopump forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source/Images: NASA]