Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed a series of successful hot-fire tests of its RL10 upper-stage rocket engine featuring a core main injector built using additive manufacturing (AM) technology.

The testing was done in conjunction with the US Air Force and NASA's Glenn Research Center as part of the RL10 additive manufacturing study (RAMS) program, which aims to demonstrate the capability of additively manufactured complex parts and qualify them for use in large rocket engines.

‘Updating our products to take advantage of the advancements we've made in additive manufacturing technology is a key part of our strategy to deliver more affordable products to our customers while at the same time maintain the reliability they've come to expect,’ said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president Eileen Drake.

The core main injector was made using selective laser melting (SLM), using a high-powered laser beam to fuse powdered metal to form detailed components that can perform under the extreme pressures and operating conditions of rocket engines.

‘While we have had success developing additive manufacturing technology for a broad range of products, from discrete engine components to hot-fire testing engines and propulsion systems made entirely with additive manufacturing, this is among the most complex components we have tested in a large rocket engine to date,’ said Dr Jay Littles, director of Advanced Launch Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne.

This story uses material from Aerojet Rocketdyne, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.