Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering announced Monday that NASA awarded a $5.2 million contract to its National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence, also known as NCAME, to develop additive manufacturing processes aimed at improving the performance of liquid rocket engines.
The contract, which spans three years, is the most recent expansion of the partnership between Auburn and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
“For decades, Auburn engineers have been instrumental in helping the U.S. achieve its space exploration goals,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, in a news release. “This new collaboration between NASA and our additive manufacturing researchers will play a major role in developing advanced rocket engines that will drive long-duration spaceflight, helping our nation achieve its bold vision for the future of space exploration.”
The research and develop covered under the contract represent NASA’s Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology (RAMPT) project, which focuses on enhancing light-weight, large-scale novel and additive manufacturing techniques to develop and manufacture regeneratively cooled thrust chamber assemblies for liquid rocket engines.
“This partnership with Auburn University and industry will help develop improvements for liquid rocket engines, as well as contribute to commercial opportunities,” said Paul McConnaughey, deputy director of Marshall Space Flight Center.
He added, “The technologies developed by this team will be made available widely to the private sector, offering more companies the opportunity to use these advanced manufacturing techniques.”
NCAME will support the RAMPT project to create a domestic supply chain and develop specialized manufacturing technology vendors that government agencies, academic institutions, and commercial space companies will utilize.
Nima Shamsaei, the NCAME director, will serve as principal investigator for the RAMPT project, while Mike Ogles, the director of NASA programs in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, will serve as project manager.
“This contract is a giant leap towards making Alabama the ‘go to state’ for additive manufacturing,” Ogles stated. “We look forward to growing our partnership with NASA, industry, and academia as we support the development of our nation’s next rocket engines.”
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