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NASA awards $5.2 million research contract to Auburn University

SOURCE: SpaceX on Unsplash
NASA awarded a US$5.2 million contract to Auburn University's National Centre for Additive Manufacturing Excellence on April 1, 2019.

Auburn University is reaching for the stars and expanding its longstanding relationship with NASA after the space agency awarded a US$5.2 million contract to the university’s National Centre for Additive Manufacturing Excellence (NCAME) on Monday.

The research carried out under the new three-year contract will focus on cutting-edge additive manufacturing techniques that will be used to improve liquid rocket engine performance.

“This contract is a giant leap towards making Alabama the ‘go to state’ for additive manufacturing,” Project Manager, Mike Ogles, said in a statement.

“We look forward to growing our partnership with NASA, industry, and academia as we support the development of our nation’s next rocket engines.”

The research and development is part of NASA’s Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology (RAMPT) project, which focuses on evolving light-weight, large-scale novel and additive manufacturing techniques for the development and manufacturing of regeneratively cooled thrust chamber assemblies for liquid rocket engines.

This is the latest development in a public-private relationship that saw Auburn University and NASA established NCAME back in 2017. The aim of the centre is to improve the performance of additive manufactured parts.

The centre works to foster effective collaborations amongst industry, government, academia, and non-profit organisations, to ensure a coordinated, global effort toward rapidly closing standards in additive manufacturing.

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The pair have also collaborated and shared research results with industry and government players. The partnership has helped the organisation respond to workforce changes and development needs in the additive manufacturing industry.

NASA’s RAMPT project, in which Auburn’s research is a part, aims to significantly reduce cost and improve performance for regeneratively cooled thrust-chamber assemblies.

“For decades, Auburn engineers have been instrumental in helping the US achieve its space exploration goals,” said Christopher B. Roberts, Dean of Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

“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.”