NASA launches its lunar exploration mission with 3D printed components.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft, with four solar panels spanning around 63 feet, is on its way to the Moon after the Artemis I rocket launched on its test flight early on Wednesday,
November 16, 2022, with three dummies aboard.
The Artemis I launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is the first of a succession of increasingly difficult missions that will enable human exploration of the Moon and Mars following years of delays and billion-dollar cost overruns
The Space Launch System (SLS) Moon rocket, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, launched the Orion capsule at 160 km/h in a matter of seconds,
demonstrating that it is the most potent rocket in the world and can transport more payload into deep space than any other spacecraft.
NASA’s Artemis I mission is designed to go around 40,000 miles beyond the Moon
and return to Earth in 25 days with previously unheard-of power and capabilities.
Artemis takes us back to the Moon
When the four Aerojet Rocketdyne-built and modified RS-25 core-stage engines of the rocket ignited in the early morning hours,
they helped the huge SLS rocket lift off from Launch Pad 39B and begin the first Artemis mission.
The four RS-25 engines have numerous 3D-printed components that work together to reduce the engine’s overall production costs by nearly 35% while maintaining performance, reliability,
The engines are built to withstand some of the most extreme temperatures
while moving massive amounts of propellant to generate enough energy for the rocket to escape Earth’s gravity.
Aerojet supplied a total of 39 propulsion components for the Artemis I mission,
including 14 high-pressure tanks, 38 liquid engines, and one solid rocket motor.
Metal AM, a technology used by Aerojet for the majority of its propulsion,
has been a part of the business for more than 20 years.
time and money have been spent developing and integrating propulsion systems into a variety of spacecraft using 3D printing techniques like laser powder bed fusion (LPBF).
Continuing a legacy
Following core stage separation and a roughly 40-minute coast phase,
the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) of the SLS took control and executed the first of two planned burns to place Orion in a stable orbit above Earth.
This stage is propelled by an Aerojet Rocketdyne-built RL10B-2 engine that produces 24,750 pounds of thrust.
The top upper-stage rocket engine in the US for more than 50 years has been Aerojet’s RL10. Known as the launch industry’s workhorse
, it was first tested in 1959 and has helped to send spacecraft to every planet in our solar system, including Voyager 1 and New Horizons, the fastest spacecraft to leave Earth orbit.
The RL10B-2which is a variation of the original RL10
and uses 3D printing technology to reduce production costs while increasing performance and design potential.
From on-site manufacturing of parts in space
to potentially aiding human settlements on other planets, additive manufacturing is aiding human space exploration remarkably.