Dynetics and Aerojet Rocketdyne are using 3-D printing technology to build a new rocket engine in an effort to replace the current Russian-built engine used to send Atlas V to space, Nextgov reported Thursday.
Marcus Weisgerber reports that the project started two years ago before the White House, Defense Department and Congress indicated plans to replace the RD-180 engine due to tension with the Russian government.
“Going to additive manufacturing is going to be one of the biggest cost and time savers on this engine,” Steve Cook, director of corporate development at Dynetics, told the publication.
Cook noted that the team needed 15 days to build the pre-burner part of the rocket engine with 3-D printing as opposed to 15 months, and the team will begin tests on the pre-burner before the end of 2014.
He also expects the team to complete a prototype engine within three years of a contract award, the report said.
Weisgerber writes that Congress has called for a replacement engine by 2019 and approved a $40 million realigned budget request from the Pentagon and the U.S. Air Force has also sought information from industry on the engine replacement project.
Plans are not final due to varied estimates on cost and time to build the engine, according to the report.