Aerojet Rocketdyne has entered into a Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to design and manufacture a lightweight rocket engine thrust chamber assembly using innovative additive manufacturing processes and materials.
The goal of the project is to reduce manufacturing costs and make a thrust chamber that is easily scalable to support a variety of missions, including America’s return to the Moon and subsequent missions to explore Mars.
Aerojet Rocketdyne will use a unique combination of 3D printing technologies – including solid state deposition and laser deposition – to enable rapid fabrication of complex components. The vertical integration of these robotic additive manufacturing techniques is expected to yield a scalable design that could be applied to propulsion systems ranging from small systems that would support a lunar lander, all the way up to large boosters that enable launch vehicles to escape Earth’s gravity.
The effort is being facilitated by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate through its Announcement of Collaborative Opportunity (ACO) initiative, which aims to reduce the development cost of technologies and accelerate the infusion of emerging commercial capabilities into space missions.
Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake said that as the company looks to the future of space exploration, efficiency and scalability will be key, which is why the firm is excited to work with NASA on this innovative thrust chamber for rocket engines. The technology Aerojet Rocketdyne develops will leverage the most advanced additive manufacturing techniques and materials to help provide efficient and safe transportation to and through space.