NASA has demonstrated the hot-fire performance of 3D-printed rocket engine parts designed for future lunar landers.
The space agency said Tuesday it tested a copper alloy combustion chamber and a hydrogen-resistant alloy-made nozzle that were produced via additive manufacturing.
NASA's Alabama-based Marshall Space Flight Center conducted the tests under the Long-Life Additive Manufacturing Assembly project that seeks to produce 3D-printed parts for lunar landers.
“This 3D printed technology is a game-changer when it comes to reducing total hardware manufacturing time and cost,” said Tom Teasley, a test engineer at Marshall.
The effort's assigned team ran 23 separate hot-fire tests within a 10-day period and generated data on pressure and temperature conditions.
NASA locally melted metal powder to produce the iron-nickel superalloy nozzle through a method known as laser powder directed energy deposition.
The LLAMA project is part of the larger Game Changing Development program that aims to explore new approaches to space technology and operations.