NASA’s 3D-Printed Rocket Parts Actually Work

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Today, NASA tested a 3D-printed turbopump, one that was put together with 45 percent fewer parts than pumps made any other way. This obviously saves time and money, but come on…NASA is slowly 3D printing an entire freaking rocket. That’s cool.

NASA referred to the rocket turbopump as “one of the most complex, 3D-printed rocket engine parts ever made.” It went through about 15 different tests to simulate the kind of force and environment 35,000 of rocket thrust would cause. Its turbine generates 2,000 horsepower, roughly twice the horsepower of a NASCAR engine.

I mean, the thing actually works. What a world we live in.

For NASA, 3D printing is becoming the key for its future space craft designs, as deputy manager of Marshall’s Propulsion System Department, Mary Beth Kolebl, explained:

By testing this fuel pump and other rocket parts made with additive manufacturing, NASA aims to drive down the risks and costs associated with using an entirely new process to build rocket engines.

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One of the engineers on the turbopump work at NASA, Nick Case, explained that the work done on this particular rocket part usually takes four years, but the 3D-printing approach cut that time in half.

Watch them kick the crap out of this thing:

We’ve seen a 3D printer used on a spaceship by an astronaut, but will we one day see a tiny 3D-printed spaceship printed inside of a gigantic 3D-printed spaceship? Think about that one for a while.