Monday February 18, 2019
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3D printed rocket engine to propel NASA missions soon

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Washington: A team of NASA engineers has inched closer to building a completely 3D printed, high-performance rocket engine by manufacturing complex engine parts; then test firing them together with cryogenic liquid hydrogen and oxygen to produce 20,000 pounds of thrust.

The team from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, tested 3D printed rocket engine parts connected together in the same fashion that they would work in a rocket engine.

The parts performance rivalled that of traditionally manufactured engine parts. During six separate tests, the engine generated up to 20,000 pounds of thrust.

“We manufactured and then tested about 75 percent of the parts needed to build a 3D printed rocket engine,” said Elizabeth Robertson, project manager at NASA.

“By testing the turbo pumps, injectors and valves together, we’ve shown that it would be possible to build a 3D printed engine for multiple purposes such as landers, in-space propulsion or rocket engine upper stages,” Robertson explained in a statement.

Over the last three years, the Marshall team has been working with various vendors to make 3D printed parts, such as turbopumps and injectors, and test them individually.

To test them together, they connected the parts so that they work the same as they do in a real engine.

“In engineering language, this is called a breadboard engine,” explained Nick Case, testing lead for the effort.

Seven tests were performed with the longest tests lasting 10 seconds.

During the tests, the 3D printed demonstrator engine experienced all the extreme environments inside a flight rocket engine where fuel is burned at greater than 3,315 degrees Celsius to produce thrust.

“These NASA tests drive drown the costs and risks associated with using additive manufacturing, which is a relatively new process for making aerospace quality parts,” Robertson noted.

“This new manufacturing process has opened the design space and allowed for part geometries that would be impossible with traditional machining or casting methods,” added David Eddleman, one of Marshall’s propulsion designers.

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a key technology for enhancing space vehicle designs and manufacturing and enabling more affordable exploration missions.(IANS)(image courtesy: NASA)

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NASA’S Twins Study Claims, Long-term Spaceflight Not Linked to Major Health Risks

"It's almost as if the body's on high alert," said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.

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NASA
Spending nearly a year in orbit increased NASA astronaut Scott Kelly's immune system response, as if, at the cellular level, his body felt under attack as compared to his Earth-bound twin brother, the Washington Post reported on Friday. Pixabay

While it was previously thought that long duration spaceflight can affect the human body, even at the molecular level, new results from NASAs “Twins Study” has showed that there are no major warning signs and no reason to think humans cannot survive a two-and-a-half-year round-trip journey to Mars.

As part of the “Twins Study”, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space while Mark, his identical twin, stayed on Earth as a control subject to look at the effects of space travel on the human body.

Spending nearly a year in orbit increased NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s immune system response, as if, at the cellular level, his body felt under attack as compared to his Earth-bound twin brother, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

NASA
According to report, the biggest concern is radiation as such a mission would expose astronauts to levels of radiation greater than permitted under current guidelines. That would not necessarily prevent a mission, but it remains a concern. Pixabay

These comparisons, however, has not raised any red flags about long-term spaceflight on the International Space Station (ISS), NASA officials were quoted as saying at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science here.

“It’s almost as if the body’s on high alert,” said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The space sojourn also changed the activity of some of his genes.

“It’s mostly really good news,” Mason said, adding, “the body has extraordinary plasticity and adaptation to being in zero gravity, at least for a year”.

NASA
“It’s almost as if the body’s on high alert,” said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine. Pixabay

According to Craig Kundrot, Director of NASA’s space life and physical sciences division, so far the space agency’s research found nothing that would make a Mars mission impossible.

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According to report, the biggest concern is radiation as such a mission would expose astronauts to levels of radiation greater than permitted under current guidelines. That would not necessarily prevent a mission, but it remains a concern.

However, Kundrot cautioned that the twin study has only two people as samples. “We don’t regard any of this as conclusive, but on the whole it’s encouraging,” he said, adding, “there are no new major warning signs”. (IANS)