A pogo z-baffle for an RS-25 engine, built using state-of-the-art Selective Laser Melting, is inspected with a structured light scan. The part was created at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., which also manages the agency’s Space Launch System, or SLS, which will use RS-25s to reach beyond low-Earth orbit. (Credit: NASA/MSFC)
By Bill Hubscher
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
The latest in cutting-edge manufacturing is already making a significant impact in the future of space exploration.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., the prime contractor for the J-2X engine, recently used an advanced 3-D printing process called Selective Laser Melting, or SLM, to create an exhaust port cover for the engine. SLM uses lasers to fuse metal dust into a specific pattern to build the cover, which is essentially a maintenance hatch for the engine’s turbo pumps.