US space agency NASA has said it has successfully conducted a hot-fire test on the largest 3D printed rocket engine component it has. The August 22 test, which generated a record 20,000 pounds (9 tones) of thrust, is ‘a milestone’ for one of many important advances the agency is making to reduce the cost of space hardware, Xinhua reported.
The component tested during the engine firing is an injector that delivers propellants to power an engine. During the test, liquid oxygen and gaseous hydrogen passed through the component into a combustion chamber and produced 10 times more thrust than any injector previously fabricated using 3D printing, NASA said Tuesday. Also Read - NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter uses same chip as Samsung Galaxy S5, OnePlus One
Early data from the test indicated that the injector “worked flawlessly” at pressures up to 1,400 pounds per square inch (984,300 kilograms per square meter) and at almost 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit (3,316 degrees Celsius). Also Read - NASA Perseverance Mars rover uses 1998 iMac processor with just one upgrade
“This successful test of a 3D printed rocket injector brings NASA significantly closer to proving this innovative technology that can be used to reduce the cost of flight hardware,” said Chris Singer, director of the engineering directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, in a statement.
NASA said it seeks to advance technologies such as 3D printing to make every aspect of space exploration more cost-effective. Currently, NASA is also working to develop and test a 3D printer that will soon print tools for the crew of the International Space Station. NASA is even exploring the possibility of printing food for long-duration space missions.