Future Rocket Engines May Include Large-Scale 3D Printing

Blown powder directed energy deposition can produce large structures – such as these engine nozzles – cheaper and quicker than traditional fabrication techniques. (Credits: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — As part of the Artemis  program, NASA is returning astronauts to the Moon where we will prepare for human exploration of Mars. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, experts from NASA, industry, and academia are pioneering methods to print the rocket parts that could power those journeys.

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Bolden Says SLS “Will Go Away,” Expects Few Other Changes at NASA if Biden Elected

Charles Bolden

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says he expects the agency’s expensive Space Launch System (SLS) will go away under during the next presidential term.

“SLS will go away. It could go away during a Biden administration or a next Trump administration … because at some point commercial entities are going to catch up,” he told Politico. “They are really going to build a heavy lift launch vehicle sort of like SLS that they will be able to fly for a much cheaper price than NASA can do SLS. That’s just the way it works.”

Congress will have something to say about the giant rocket designed to return astronauts to the moon under NASA’s Artemis program. Legislators have protected SLS and its two related programs, the Orion spacecraft and Exploration Ground Systems, despite large cost overruns and years of delays.

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Northrop Grumman Successfully Tests NASA’s Space Launch System Booster for Artemis Missions

Space Launch System solid rocket booster test. (Credit: NASA webcast)

PROMONTORY, Utah, Sept. 2, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – NASA and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) have successfully conducted a full-scale static fire test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket motor, known as Flight Support Booster (FSB-1), in Promontory.

During the test, the 154-foot-long, five-segment rocket motor fired for just over two minutes, producing 3.6 million pounds of thrust. Two SLS boosters will provide more than 75 percent of the initial thrust for an SLS launch.

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Northrop Grumman Conducts Hot Fire of SLS Solid Rocket Booster

Space Launch System solid rocket booster test. (Credit: NASA webcast)

Northrop Grumman conducted a two-minute hot fire test of the solid rocket booster to be used on the NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) for sending astronauts to the moon. The test was conducted in Promontory, Utah.

The hot fire, which was webcast on NASA TV, appeared to go as planned. We are awaiting a press conference and a formal statement by the company.

Orion Completes Key Review for Artemis I Mission

Orion fitted to its adapter for the Artemis I mission. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) –NASA’s Orion Program has completed the System Acceptance Review and Design Certification Review to certify the Artemis I spacecraft is fit for flight, ready to venture from Earth to the lunar vicinity, and return home for landing and recovery.

The review examined every spacecraft system, all test data, inspection reports, and analyses that support verification, to ensure every aspect of the spacecraft has the right technical maturity.

In effect, the review gives the stamp of approval to the entire spacecraft development effort and is the final formal milestone to pass before integration with the Space Launch System rocket.

In addition to spacecraft design, the review certified all reliability and safety analyses, production quality and configuration management systems, and operations manuals.

Orion, the Space Launch System, and Exploration Ground Systems programs are foundational elements of the Artemis program, beginning with Artemis I, the first integrated flight test of Orion and SLS next year. Artemis II will follow as the first human mission, taking astronauts farther into space than ever before.

NASA to Highlight Artemis Booster Test with Live Broadcast, Media Teleconference

Teams have installed the flight support booster (FSB) for later versions of the solid rocket boosters on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket into the test stand in Promontory, Utah. NASA and Northrop Grumman, the SLS booster lead contractor, will conduct a two-minute, full-duration test with the booster on Sept. 2. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

PROMONTORY, Utah (NASA PR) — NASA will broadcast a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket full-scale booster test at 2:40 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Sept. 2, on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed by a media teleconference.

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Eyes Forward as Artemis Missions Set to Begin Next Year

by Kathy Lueders
Associate Administrator for Human Spaceflight

Jumping headfirst into the Artemis program has been one of the highlights in my transition as the associate administrator for human spaceflight. With an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there was little time for a transition period as mission essential work needed to continue as safely as possible.

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NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission Nears Completion

Green Propellant Infusion Mission in orbit. (Credit: NASA)

by Lance Davis
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA just validated a new type of propellant, or fuel, for spacecraft of all sizes. Instead of toxic hydrazine, space missions can use a less toxic, “green” propellant and the compatible technologies designed to go along with it. In a little over a year since launch, NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) successfully proved a never-before-used propellant and propulsion system work as intended, demonstrating both are practical options for future missions.

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NASA Motor Test Helps Evaluate New SLS Materials

A test firing with a 24-inch solid rocket booster on Aug. 6 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will help engineers evaluate a new cleaning solvent for Space Launch System (SLS) booster nozzles.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Every detail that goes into space exploration matters. While habitat design or making sure a rocket is powerful enough to launch supplies are obviously important, what may be less apparent are the smaller things, including the solvents used in manufacturing materials for spaceflight.

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic, Looks Ahead in 2020, 2021

SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — With 2020 more than half way through, NASA is gearing up for a busy rest of the year and 2021.

Following the recent successful launch of a Mars rover and safely bringing home astronauts from low-Earth orbit aboard a new commercial spacecraft, NASA is looking forward to more exploration firsts now through 2021.

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NASA Begins Installing Orion Adapter for First Artemis Moon Flight

Orion fitted to its adapter for the Artemis I mission. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are working to install an adapter that will connect the Orion spacecraft to its rocket for the Artemis I mission around the Moon. This is one of the final major hardware operations for Orion inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building prior to integration with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

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Four Down, Four to Go: Artemis I Rocket Moves Closer to Hot Fire Test

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is completing the Green Run test for the rocket’s core stage, shown installed on the top left side of the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA/Stennis)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage for the Artemis I lunar mission has successfully completed its first four Green Run tests and is building on those tests for the next phase of checkout as engineers require more capability of the hardware before hot-firing the stage and its four powerful engines.

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Key Connection for Artemis I Arrives at Kennedy

Technicians with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems move the launch vehicle stage adapter (LVSA) for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on July 30, 2020, for processing. (Credits: Jacobs/Tracy Yates)

by Danielle Sempsrott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

The second to last piece of hardware for the Artemis I  test flight around the Moon has arrived at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch vehicle stage adapter (LVSA) connects the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to the upper stage, called the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage.

The cone-shaped connector also helps protect the RL10 engine housed in the upper stage, which will provide the power necessary to leave Earth’s orbit and send the Orion spacecraft on its journey to the Moon.

“The launch vehicle stage adapter arriving to Kennedy is significant because we have almost all of the pieces of the rocket here as we get closer to launch,” said Allison Mjoen, operations project engineer with the Exploration Ground Systems program. “We have moved from planning into implementation, and soon the rocket will begin taking shape with stacking operations.”

Arriving at Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39 turn basin wharf, the LVSA traveled from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to Florida on the agency’s Pegasus barge – a 310-foot-long vessel that has been modified to transport the largest rocket stage in the world: the SLS core stage. Technicians offloaded the LVSA and transported it to the Vehicle Assembly Building, where it will be stored until it is needed for stacking on the rocket. The core stage – made up of the forward skirt, liquid oxygen tank, liquid hydrogen tank, and the engine section containing the rocket’s four RS-25 engines – is the final piece of the rocket that will be delivered to Kennedy ahead of the Artemis I launch.

Under the Artemis program, NASA is working toward landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. Artemis I will test SLS and Orion as an integrated system prior to crewed flights and is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. SLS and Orion, coupled with the Human Landing System and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, will be the agency’s backbone of deep space exploration.

NASA Sinks More Money into SLS

The manufacture and checkout of all 10 motor segments for the first Artemis flight were completed in January at Northrop Grumman’s factory in Promontory, Utah. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA has taken the next steps toward building Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters to support as many as six additional flights, for a total of up to nine Artemis missions. The agency is continuing to work with Northrop Grumman of Brigham City, Utah, the current lead contractor for the solid rocket boosters that will launch the first three Artemis missions, including the mission that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024.

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NASA Completes Artemis Space Launch System Structural Testing Campaign

Engineers completed almost 200 tests on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket by breaking the liquid oxygen tank test article. This test was the last in a 3-year structural campaign to ensure the rocket’s structure was designed to endure the rigors of spacefllight. The tests were essential for safely sending astronauts to space on the Artemis missions the Moon. First, engineers used computer modeling to design the rocket’s major structures to specific factors of safety. Then, they anchored those models with testing to see if the model’s predictions are correct. More than 20 SLS structural tests showed that the liquid oxygen tank would survive the forces predicted to occur during launch and flight. The June 24 test pushed the tank beyond its limits to see how much force it would take to break the tank’s structure. This image shows water gushing out of the tank as it failed. The resulted circumferential buckling of the structure occurred within 2% of the predicted failure value. The test results will provide rocket designers with valuable information for making the SLS tanks lighter and for informing the designs of other government and commercial rockets. (Credits: NASA/David Olive)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — On June 24, 2020, engineers completed the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s structural testing campaign for the Artemis lunar missions by testing the liquid oxygen structural test article to find its point of failure.

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