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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Jordan Noone Steps Down as Relativity Space CTO

Jordan Noone at Relativity Space. (Credit: Jordan Noone)

Relativity Space Co-founder Jordan Noone has stepped down as chief technology officer (CTO) and will serve as an advisor to the launch provider, which is developing a 3D-printed booster.

“@relativityspace has been the dream of a lifetime. Yesterday I began a transition from CTO to Executive Advisor in preparation for starting my next venture,” Noone tweeted.

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JAXA Selects 15 Innovative Micro Satellite Demonstration Projects

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has established a basic mission that uses micro satellites as part of the “environmental maintenance for stable supply of core parts of space systems” shown in the Basic Space Plan.

We are advancing the “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program” with the aim of conducting on-orbit verification of parts and new elemental technology in a timely and inexpensive manner.

We would like to inform you that we are soliciting demonstration themes for “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Unit 3” and selected the demonstration themes (15 in total) from the 23 themes that we applied for, as shown below.

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Astronaut Christina Koch Services a 3-D Biological Printer

Christina Koch handles media bags that enable the manufacturing of organ-like tissues using the BioFabrication Facility. (Credit: NASA)

In this image from December 2019, astronaut Christina Koch handles media bags that enable the manufacturing of organ-like tissues using the BioFabrication Facility (BFF), a 3-D biological printer on the International Space Station. The BFF could become a part of a larger system capable of manufacturing whole, fully functioning human organs from existing patient cells in microgravity.

Learn more about science experiments aboard the station and how they helps improve life on Earth.

3D-printed Thrust Chamber Passes First Tests for Vega Evolutions

he 3D-printed thrust chamber assembly of the methane-fuelled M10 rocket engine passed its first series of hot firing tests at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in the USA during February 2020. The M10 engine will power the upper stage of future Vega evolutions from 2025. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (ESA PR) — The 3D-printed thrust chamber assembly of the methane-fuelled M10 rocket engine has passed its first series of hot firing tests. The M10 engine will power the upper stage of future Vega evolutions from 2025.

“These test results are encouraging, confirming that our propulsion teams are right on track along the development path identified for such novel technology for Vega evolutions,” commented Giorgio Tumino, managing ESA’s Vega and Space Rider development programmes.

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Video: ESA’s First 3D Printer for Space

Video Caption: Presenting Europe’s first 3D printer designed for use in weightlessness, printing aerospace-quality plastics. ESA’s Manufacturing of Experimental Layer Technology (MELT) project printer has to be able to operate from any orientation – up, down or sideways – in order to serve in microgravity conditions aboard the International Space Station. Based on the ‘fuse filament fabrication’ process, it has been designed to fit within a standard ISS payload rack, and to meet the Station’s rigorous safety standards.

The MELT printer can print a wide variety of thermoplastics from ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), as used in Lego, up to high-melting point engineering thermoplastics such PEEK (Polyether ether ketone), which is robust enough to substitute for metal materials in some cases.

The printer was produced for ESA by a consortium led by Sonaca Space GmbH together with BeeVeryCreative, Active Space Technologies SA and OHB-System AG. The MELT project was supported through ESA’s Technology Development Element programme, which identifies promising technologies for space, then demonstrates their workability.

Success: 3D Bioprinter in Space Prints With Human Heart Cells

The 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) is the first 3D printer capable of manufacturing human tissue (including, someday, organs) in the microgravity condition of space. (Credit: Techshot)

GREENVILLE, Ind., January 7, 2020 (Techshot PR) — A 3D bioprinter privately owned by an American company has successfully printed with a large volume of human heart cells aboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Owned by Techshot Inc., a commercial operator of microgravity research and manufacturing equipment, the 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) was developed in partnership with nScrypt, a manufacturer of industrial 3D bioprinters and electronics printers. The tissue-like constructs return to Earth this week inside a SpaceX capsule.

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Solving the Challenges of Long Duration Space Flight with 3D Printing

NASA Astronaut Barry (Butch) Wilmore holds a ratchet wrench created in 2014 with the 3D printer aboard the International Space Station using a design file transmitted from the ground. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The International Space Station has continuously been home to astronauts for more than nineteen years. Astronauts conduct scientific research using dozens of special facilities aboard the space station, which also provides them with a place to eat, sleep, relax and exercise. To make all of this possible requires sending more than 7,000 pounds of spare parts to the station annually. Another 29,000 pounds of spaceflight hardware spares are stored aboard the station and another 39,000 on the ground, ready to fly if needed.

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Research Launching to the Space Station Ranges from Radiation Protection to Rover Control

Cygnus departs the International Space Station. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — Supplies and scientific experiments ride to the International Space Station on a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft (NG-12) scheduled for launch on Nov. 2. The investigations making the trip range from research into human control of robotics in space to reprocessing fibers for 3D printing. Cygnus lifts off on the Antares rocket from pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island in Virginia.

Resupply missions from U.S. companies ensure NASA’s capability to deliver critical science research to the space station and significantly increase its ability to conduct new investigations in the only laboratory in space. This is the first mission under Northrop’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 contract with NASA.

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Made in Space to Launch Plastics Recycler to ISS

Braskem Recycler (Credit: Made in Space)

Made in Space announced on Monday that it will send a system to the International Space Station (ISS) next month that will recycle plastic waste.

The Braskem Recycler will produce plastic feed stock that will be used in Made in Space’s additive manufacturing facility (AMF) aboard ISS, the company said.

“The Recycler will complete the plastic sustainability lifecycle on-orbit by providing astronauts the ability to convert plastic packaging and trash as well as objects previously fabricated by the 3D printer into feedstock to be reused by the printer,” the company said on its website. “It will facilitate the reusability of materials to solve new problems as they arise whether on the International Space Station or in future manned space exploration missions.”

The Braskem Recycle is scheduled for launch aboard a Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship on Nov. 2. The NG-12 mission will fly on an Antares booster from Wallops Island, Va.

Made in Space developed the recycler through a partnership with Braskem, a Brazil-based company that is America’s largest thermoplastic resin producer.

Braskem’s Green Plastic, a bio-based resin made from sugar cane, has been used in Made in Space’s 3D printer aboard the station for the printing of tools and spare parts.

Aerojet Rocketdyne Teams with NASA to Develop Novel Rocket Engine Technology

LOS ANGELES, Calif., Oct. 8, 2019 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – 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.

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Relativity Space Signs Launch Agreement with Momentus

Vigoride (Credit: Momentus)

LOS ANGELES (Relativity Space PR) –Relativity Space, the world’s first autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader for satellites, today announced that it has signed a Launch Services Agreement (LSA) with Momentus, the provider of in-space shuttle services that move satellites between orbits, to launch Momentus’ small and medium satellite customers on Relativity’s Terran 1 rocket, the world’s first and only entirely 3D printed rocket. Momentus will then deliver their customers’ small and medium sized satellites to geosynchronous orbit (GEO) using the Momentus Vigoride Extended in-space shuttle service.

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NASA STTR Awards Focused on Advanced Thermal Protection Systems

This computer-generated art depicts Orion’s heat shield protecting the crew module as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA is funding research into lighter and more capable thermal protection systems (TPSs) producing using additive manufacturing (3D printing) as it looks to land ever larger payloads on other worlds and return extraterrestrial soil samples to Earth.

The space agency recently selected four heat shield proposals from corporate-university partnerships for funding under its Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The phase 1 grants are worth up to $125,000 over 13 months.

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ESA Unveils Technologies for Future Launch Vehicles

Moving launch vehicle technology from ‘lab to launch’ (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA safeguards Europe’s guaranteed access to space through its Future Launchers Preparatory Programme, FLPP.

FLPP weighs up the opportunities and risks of different launch vehicle concepts and associated technologies.

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