Conquering Space with 3D Printing
‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’. Immortal words uttered nearly fifty years ago on the first voyage to the moon. That first trip was a huge step for science and demonstrated what some of the greatest minds of their generation could achieve. There is still a lot of the moon that remains unexplored, and with the help of 3D printing, we’re going back.
3D Printed Rutherford Engine
Two companies, California based Moon Express, and New Zealand’s Rocket Lab Ltd are working together to put a robotic rover on the moon to collect HD footage. The rocket they are using is a far cry from the kind used in 1969, with the engine being designed and developed to take advantage of 3D printing. They can print and assemble the ‘Rutherford Engine’ in just three days, with the engine chamber, pumps, main propellant valves and injector all being 3D printed. This not only makes the process fast, but also significantly reduces the weight of the rocket by opening up new design opportunities.
Moon express are planning on sending their rover up in this rocket, and if they can manage it they will be the first privately owned company to achieve a soft lunar landing. They will also be eligible for Google’s Lunar XPRIZE, a $30 million prize pool for being the first company to land a rover and have it traverse the moon sending back footage. It will also show the world that space is more accessible than ever, and hopefully inspire a whole new generation of space explorers.
They have until 2017 to launch their rover, but from the footage below, it looks like they are nearly there!