5/2/2019 | 1 MINUTE READ

NASA Funds Auburn University for AM Aerospace Growth

The research and development covered under a contract between Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will focus on evolving light-weight, large-scale additive manufacturing techniques for regeneratively cooled thrust chamber assemblies.

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Auburn University's Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has announced that NASA awarded a $5.2 million contract to its National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence (NCAME) to develop additive manufacturing (AM) processes and techniques for improving the performance of liquid rocket engines. The three-year contract is the latest expansion of a longstanding public-private partnership between Auburn and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

"For decades, Auburn engineers have been instrumental in helping the U.S. achieve its space exploration goals," says Christopher B. Roberts, dean of Auburn's Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. "This new collaboration between NASA and our additive manufacturing researchers will play a major role in developing advanced rocket engines that will drive long-duration spaceflight, helping our nation achieve its bold vision for the future of space exploration."

The research and development covered under the new contract is part of NASA's Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology (RAMPT) project, which focuses on evolving novel technologies, including AM, for the development and manufacturing of regeneratively cooled thrust chamber assemblies for liquid rocket engines.

"This partnership with Auburn University and industry will help develop improvements for liquid rocket engines, as well as contribute to commercial opportunities," says Paul McConnaughey, deputy director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. "The technologies developed by this team will be made available widely to the private sector, offering more companies the opportunity to use these advanced manufacturing techniques."

NCAME will support the RAMPT project, creating a domestic supply chain and developing specialized manufacturing technology vendors to be used by all government agencies, academic institutions and commercial space companies.

Auburn University and NASA established NCAME in 2017 to improve the performance of parts created using AM, share research results with industry and government collaborators and respond to workforce development needs. The center is also one of the founding partners of the newly established ASTM International Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence at Auburn.

"This contract is a giant leap towards making Alabama the 'go to state' for additive manufacturing," says Mike Ogles, RAMPT project manager and director of NASA programs in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. "We look forward to growing our partnership with NASA, industry and academia as we support the development of our nation's next rocket engines."

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