Jan 12, 2016 | By Kira

Moog, a motion control equipment maker for the space and defense industries, among others, has won a technology development contract from the US Air Force under the Booster Propulsion Technology Maturation Broad Agency Announcement. The $728,337 contract will see Moog develop parts for liquid fueled first stage rocket engines through additive manufacturing technology.

Specifically, Moog’s task is to explore the material properties unique to metal additive manufacturing and, using failure analysis techniques, take note of their strengths and, more importantly, their weaknesses. This information will then be used to improve metal 3D printing processes in order to avoid those weaknesses during the actual production phase.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V space launch vehicle featuring the Russian made RD-180 propulsion system

The Booster Propulsion Technology Maturation Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) award, released by the Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), was developed to support technology maturation for the next generation of rocket propulsion systems, while reducing risk for the US domestic industry base. The overarching aim of the project is to transition the US Air Force off of its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 propulsion systems used on the Altas V rocket, by instead investing in domestic launch solutions.

"The end goal of our strategy is to have two or more domestic, commercially viable launch providers that also meet national security space requirements," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, SMC commander and the Air Force's program executive officer for space. "This is essential in order to solidify U.S. assured access to space, transition the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program away from strategic foreign reliance, and support the U.S. launch industry's commercial viability in the global market."

New York-based Moog’s current line of products and systems include military and commercial aircraft flight controls, satellite positioning controls, controls for steering tactical and strategic missiles, thrust vector controls for space launch vehicles and much more. Founded in 1951, Moog’s space heritage extends “back to the beginning of the original Space Race and the Cold War,” however, it is only recently that the company has become heavily invested in 3D printing and additive manufacturing for its military, space, and defense solutions.

In 2014, Moog opened a titanium and stainless steel additive manufacturing center in East Aurora. Most recently, Moog acquired a 70 percent stake in Linear Mold & Engineering, one of the largest metal additive manufacturing services providers in North America, which also happens to provide engineering and additive manufacturing services to customers in the aerospace, defense, energy and industrial sectors. Work on the US Air Force’s Booster Propulsion Technology Maturation BAA contract will take place in the East Aurora facility, alongside Moog’s launch vehicle fluid controls engineers.

“Moog is proud to be a part of next generation US space launch assets continuing a rich history of supporting every major US space launch system over the past 60 years,” said the company. “We see significant potential for metal additive solutions for space applications and we are happy to support the technology advancement with the US Air Force, added Dave Chaves, Moog Director of Space Access and Integrated Systems.

The first BAA award went to Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering for the evaluation of additively manufactured liquid rocket engine cooling channels in representative environments. Aerojet Rocketdyne, who is developing a 3D printed propulsion system for NASA, is also an awardee.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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