NASA just 3D printed a turbopump that actually works.
According to NASA, the turbopump is “one of the most complex, 3D-printed rocket engine parts ever made.”
Since it was 3D printed, it also used 45 percent less parts.
The working turbopump is a huge deal for NASA because it is leading the way to printing an entire rocket and in far less time than traditionally produced space vehicles.
The deputy manager of NASA Marshall’s Propulsion System Department, Mary Beth Kolebl also explained 3D printing could eventually be the future of rocket design.
“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,” she said.
It could also eventually lead to manufacturing in space opening up a whole new world of possibilities for astronauts and space travel.
In the meantime, the NASA team demonstrated just how powerful their 3D printed turboprop really is in a videotaped test.
According to NASA, “During the test, the pump’s turbine spins at more than 90,000 revolutions per minute (rpms) –9.5 times fasters than a Formula One Racecar. The fast spinning turbopump causes the vibrations in this video. The turbopump moves 1,200 gallons of liquid hydrogen per minute. The hydrogen is at cryogenic temperatures below minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and operation at these extremely low temperatures is what causes the frost to build up and flake off during the test.”
It is also pretty neat to watch (see video above)