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Space Launch System

The tests aim at reducing the weight of the SLS by 20 percent (Image: NASA)

On December 9, NASA began what is either an impressive engineering test or a classic example of world-class larking about. At the space agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, engineers are crushing an enormous can by subjecting it to almost one million pounds of force. This may seem like a party trick that’s gone out of control, but there’s a serious reason behind this … or so NASA says. The crushing is part of the project to design the fuel tanks for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which will be used to launch the Orion spacecraft and deep space missions.  Read More

An F/A-18 research jet simulated various flight conditions to evaluate the new SLS flight ...

Earlier this month, NASA carried out tests on a new flight system for the Space Launch System (SLS), the heavy lifting rocket that will send the manned Orion spacecraft into deep space. What was unusual about this is that instead of using a rocket for the tests, the space agency used an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet as a stand in as a way to carry out more tests at lower costs.  Read More

Hot-fire test of a 3D printed rocket part (Image: NASA/MSFC/NASA/David Olive)

NASA has shown a keen interest in 3D printed rocket components lately with a series of tests that have had considerable success, with printed parts in test firings working as well as those made by conventional methods. In the latest test firing on August 22, the largest 3-D printed rocket engine component yet tested by NASA withstood ten times the thrust previously generated by an engine using printed components.  Read More

Concept image showing Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle (I...

NASA has released new concept images and animations outlining one version of its plan to capture an asteroid with an unmanned craft and return it to lunar orbit for astronauts to study. The plan is part of an initiative by President Barack Obama for a US manned asteroid mission as outlined in his 2014 NASA budget request. The agency’s main objective at the moment is to come up with alternative approaches and evaluate them.  Read More

M2 Cusing Machine in operation (Image: NASA)

NASA engineers are using a 3D laser printing system to produce intricate metal parts such as rocket engine components for its next-generation Space Launch System (SLS). The method called “selective laser melting “ (SLM) promises to streamline fabrication and significantly reduce production costs.  Read More

The Garvey Prospector P-15, powered by an ORBITEC vortex liquid fuel rocket engine, climbs...

Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC) successfully flight tested its patented vortex liquid fuel rocket engine on October 25. The engine was installed in a Prospector-class Garvey Spacecraft Corporation launch vehicle, and the resulting rocket was launched at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry facility near Edwards Air Force Base in California. The flight established substantial progress toward ORBITEC's development of a 30,000-lb (13,600-kg) thrust vortex engine for the US Air Force Advanced Upper Stage Engine Program and for NASA's Space Launch System.  Read More

Blue Origin's New Shepard crew capsule shoots free of the launch vehicle simulator

Aerospace firm Blue Origin has already conducted wind tunnel and engine tests, in the development of its reusable orbital Space Vehicle. Last week, however, the company took a step forward in the development of its New Shepard suborbital system – at its West Texas launch site, the company conducted a successful pad escape test, in which a full-scale crew capsule was ejected from a launch vehicle simulator.  Read More

SLS solid rocket booster segment being moved (Image: ATK)

When NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) enters service in 2017, it will replace the historic Saturn V as the largest, most powerful space launch vehicle ever flown. To lift its initial 70-metric ton (77 ton) payload into orbit, the SLS will rely on additional boost from a pair of the largest solid rocket motors ever to be built for flight. The first of these boosters is being assembled for NASA in Brigham City, Utah by ATK Space Systems using new manufacturing methods intended to make these behemoths safer and less expensive.  Read More

NASA's massive crawler - at the time it entered service, it was the largest land vehicle o...

NASA’s giant crawler transporter that carried the Apollo missions and the Space Shuttles to the launch pad is getting an upgrade. In service since the mid-1960s, the 2,495 tonne (2,750 ton) vehicle is receiving new engines and other improvements that will allow it to carry the future Space Launch System (SLS) rockets due to enter service in 2017.  Read More

The F-1 engine sent the Apollo Moon missions into space (Photo: NASA)

A legendary Space Age rocket engine that sent mankind to the Moon in 1969 may be brought back to power humanity’s return to that celestial body. Under a NASA request, Dynetics Inc of Huntsville, Alabama has submitted a proposal apparently studying the feasibility of reviving the F-1 rocket engine technology. Previously used to power the first stage of the Saturn V rocket that launched the Apollo missions to the Moon, it could now find use in NASA’s planned Space Launch System (SLS) due to enter service in 2017.  Read More

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