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Project Orion: NASA’s Mission to Mars Relies on Designs of Past & Future, Powered by 3D Printing

by • January 19, 2016 • No Comments

download (5)Have you at any time noticed that children, upon being asked what they want to do when they grow up, frequently respond with the most complex professions probably attainable? It all seems so possible when you are five. I want to be President. I want to be a neurosurgeon. I want to be an astronaut. As we grow older, we discover that attaining any of these prestigious titles–along with a multitude of others–requires extraordinary brain power, just about a lifetime of commitment, and a lot of effort.

To become an astronaut, yes, you require the degree(s) in engineering or science, piloting experience, and must pass all the physicals. But if you are planning to go into space, along with belief the sense of danger involved, you can require to be created to live in a few tight and uncomfortable quarters. Whilst that was unquestionably the case when our men initially went to the moon, we are a bit additional spoiled at the present time, and sending our astronauts off in a space where they can’t in fact extend their legs during flight seems a bit tortuous. So as NASA works diligently to get to Mars via Project Orion, and the world waits greedily for news on what they are doing, new create ideas are being considered–and 3D printing fits in predominantly–all around.


Photo: NASA

With the Soyuz system (a capsule create of 1968) yet serving as a prime version, engineers have considered what changes they may probably manufacture to include additional comfort, and have come up with what they consider to be ‘a limousine’ compared to previous versions. The cylindrical service version can encompass all of the propulsion system plus house four crew, their air and water, and provide a cone-shaped module where they can sit.

“This is a create and a shape that we can be completely confident can work,” said Mike Kirasich, NASA’s program manager for Orion at the agency’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

Whilst the service module is being provided by the European Space Agency due to an agreement regarding collaboration and the ISS, NASA is going all out in the creation of a new launcher, that draws on creates of the past–and the next. A number of components have been 3D printed for the engines and have undergone successful testing so far, via Aerojet Rocketdyne, the company awarded a contract to rebegin production of RS-25D engines–and is setting the standards for 3D printed rocket engines. This is of course where metal 3D printing comes into play and shows its future for what may be considered extreme situations, assuming that extraordinary temperatures–and outer space–qualify.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is via 3D printing innovation–as they have been for most years–not on the main engines, but on the more compact ones ‘studding’ the capsule’s surface. They are specifically via this innovation to fabricate the rocket nozzle extensions, due to speed involved, enabling for the components to be generated 40% faster. With twelve nozzles in total, they were created in just sat any timeal weeks.


3D printing is being utilized to manufacture rocket components for the capsule.

According to Jay Littles, director of Advanced Launch Vehicle Propulsion, Rocketdyne has understood the value of additive making far longer than most realize, and has in fact been putting it to use for 20 years on aerospace projects.

“What sets us apart of a fewone just buying a 3D printing device is that we know the system of begin to finish, of feed powders, to the optimised machine system parameters, to the resulting material microstructures and material properties,” he said.

Whilst the 3D printed engines have indeed passed a number of tests that successfully, the nozzles themselves can be subjected to a wide range of inspections and tests preceding they can in fact be installed on a crewed capsule. They are slated to go on the capsule for Exploration Mission-1 as the ultimate test preceding a crew is involved.

We’ve been next the saga of Orion for really a few time now, and obviously can go on to for years, of futuristic new spacesuits to rocket components–to a multitude of discussions on how 3D printing may allow for construction of self-sustainable habitats in space. Exploration Mission-1, a test sending an unmanned capsule in 2018, can be one of the final tests preceding an actual crew is sent into space. At that point, all components can be evaluated and refined if necessary.

So while creates of the past may yet play an integral part in the create, power, and in fact safety of astronauts, it pretty seems that new technologies like 3D printing play a crucial part in what is in fact going to get us to Mars–and contribute sustainability once we get there. And with an actual crewed undertaking not taking place for years, one can just imagine what new tools and innovation can come along in the meantime. Tell us your thoughts on the Orion undertaking and the innovation being utilized, over in the 3D Printing and NASA’s Project Orion forum on 3DPB.com.

[Source: The Engineer]

Orion_ESM_structural_test_versionWEB (1)

A view of underneath the assist module.