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White Sands propulsion team evaluates 3D-printed engine component for Orion
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White Sands propulsion team evaluates 3D-printed engine component for Orion
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) May 08, 2024

The Orion spacecraft, designated to transport Artemis mission crews to the Moon, will be powered by a European Service Module from ESA (European Space Agency). This module is critical for providing power, propulsion, thermal regulation, and storing essentials until its detachment from the crew module upon reentry.

For the initial Artemis missions, Artemis I to Artemis VI, a repurposed Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) engine from the retired space shuttle fleet will serve as the primary propulsion. However, post-Artemis VI, a new propulsion system will be required for Orion.

Addressing this need, NASA and L3 Harris are developing the Orion Main Engine (OME). Prior to operational deployment, the OME's components undergo rigorous evaluation, including the recently tested injector.

From November 2023 through January 2024, the Propulsion Test Office at White Sands Test Facility conducted extensive tests on this OME injector. Located at Test Stand 301A, the injector was subjected to a series of 21 tests, each involving a three-second engine fire to assess its reliability in maintaining consistent combustion and recovering from controlled disturbances.

The White Sands team, under the leadership of James Hess as the project manager and operations director, ensured the safety and success of these evaluations. James Mahoney managed the test scheduling and budget, while Jordan Aday supervised the operational aspects and actual testing. Sal Muniz and Jesus Lujan-Martino contributed as lead electrical engineer and instrumentation engineer, respectively. Aerojet Rocketdyne's Shaun DeSouza acted as the test article director, ensuring the injector met all performance criteria. Additional support came from the OME Program team at NASA's Johnson Space Center and Glenn Research Center.

The tests affirmed the OME injector's capability to sustain stable combustion. An important feature of this injector is its fabrication via an additive manufacturing method known as selective laser machining, which utilizes metallic powders-a process offering potential cost reduction and efficiency enhancements in future developments.

This injector is set to be integrated into a complete OME for further comprehensive engine assembly testing at White Sands.

Related Links
White Sands Test Facility
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