NASA and Virgin Orbit 3D Print, Test Rocket Combustion Chamber

Engineers test-fire a 3D-printed rocket engine combustion chamber at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. NASA is partnering with Virgin Orbit of Long Beach, California, to deliver advanced engine hardware that employs cutting-edge NASA and commercial additive manufacturing, or 3D-printing, processes. Researchers will continue to explore advanced 3D-printing solutions, introducing even higher-performing alloys and further refining the printing process. (Credits: NASA/Virgin Orbit)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — At the heart of future rocket engines lifting off to the Moon or Mars could be a 3D printed combustion chamber. Multiple NASA centers partnered with Virgin Orbit to develop and test a uniquely manufactured rocket part.

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No Immediate Solution on Heavy-Lift Program

Jupiter Direct Launcher Variants

The Huntsville Times has an editorial titled, “It’s time to end NASA’s limbo,” in which it urges a quick action on finalizing the space agency’s budget and a rapid start of work on its heavy-lift program:

Congress and the White House then spent most of 2010 trying to agree on a direction for NASA. The end result, which should put the creation of a new heavy-lift vehicle in the hands of Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center, now appears to be stuck: There’s a direction, but a continuing resolution by Congress doesn’t specifically point money to the new heavy-lift program, which means work might not get off the ground.

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Shelby: I Can’t Quit You, Shuttle!

Sen. Richard Shelby

The Decatur Daily explains how the United Launch Alliance facility in Dacatur, Ala. got no love from Sen. Richard Shelby:

As U.S. senators carved up the leftovers of NASA’s Constellation program for their states, most of the meat went to Utah and Huntsville.

United Launch Alliance, with its assembly plant in Decatur, got the bone.

The ranking Republican member of the committee that wrote the budget authorization that would effectively exclude ULA from participating in the development of a heavy-lift rocket was Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa.

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NASA Tests Lunar Lander at Marshall

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is testing a new robotic lunar lander test bed that will aid in the development of a new generation of multi-use landers for future robotic space exploration. Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is testing a new robotic lunar lander test bed that will aid in the development of a new generation of multi-use landers for future robotic space exploration. Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

NASA PROGRAM UPDATE

How do you fly on a world with no atmosphere? Wings won’t work and neither do propellers. And don’t even try that parachute!

NASA engineer Brian Mulac has the answer. “All it takes is practice, practice, practice,” he says. “And of course, thrusters.”

The space agency is perfecting the art using a prototype lunar lander at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

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SpaceDev wins contract for NASA Hybrid Rocket Motors

SpaceDev Press Release

POWAY, CA – March 3, 2008 – SpaceDev, Inc. (OTCBB: SPDV) announced today that it has been awarded a contract by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center for the research and development of its next generation proprietary annular hybrid rocket motors. The contract work will be performed over a six-month period, during which SpaceDev is expected to conduct development testing with the objective of validating performance parameters. This technology could provide significant improvements to hybrid rockets in terms of both performance and packaging efficiency that could significantly broaden their overall applicability and value.

“We’ve been continuing our development of advanced rocket motors for spacecraft and this is a strong next step in that process. Our cooperation with NASA and specifically with the Marshall Space Flight Center is of major importance to us. Their experience and knowledge will provide considerable added value to the important work being conducted by our propulsion team,” said Mark N. Sirangelo, SpaceDev’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “This technology could allow hybrid rocket motors to establish a presence in areas they have not been historically considered in commercial, civil space and military applications.”