Gas generator test by Dynetics and Aerojet Rocketdyne

The Dynetics-Aerojet Rocketdyne F-1B SLM Gas Generator Injector is hotfire tested at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
The Dynetics-Aerojet Rocketdyne F-1B SLM Gas Generator Injector is hotfire tested at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration and/or Risk Reduction (ABEDRR) contract partnering with NASA. This test series was unique, as the key component of the gas generator was built using Additive manufacturing or 3-D printing techniques.

NASA was awarded the ABEDRR contract in the year 2012 for reducing the risks for advanced boosters that could help meet SLS’s future capability needs. The team has also performed a set of full-scale, system-level demonstrations on key advanced booster systems. Dynetics, one of the prime contractor, designed and fabricated a full-scale cryogenic tank to verify the structural design.

To demonstrate that a proven design can be built at a competitive rate, the Aerojet Rocketdyne has utilized its state-of-the-art manufacturing methods of Apollo-era F-1 rocket engine. Selective Laser Melting (SLM), is one among the new fabrication methods used, which has shown the potential for dramatically reducing cost and schedule for building rocket engine parts. SLM was used to build F-1-based gas generator injector on the ABEDRR program.

In the year 2013, an F-1 gas generator was tested to verify its applicability to the NASA SLS requirements. Testing the 3D-printed gas generator provides an opportunity to compare the parts built with traditional manufacturing with the parts built using the SLM process. The results of these two tests were two test were highly successful and were almost identical.

The F-1 engine gas generator test along with other recent tests using 3-D printed parts, helps the NASA and the aerospace industry gather data on these new manufacturing processes. The F-1 gas generator fabrication using the SLM process is said to demonstrate part reduction costs by 50% and also decrease the delivery schedule from months to weeks.