It is said that kids get smarter after every few generations, and I can certainly vouch for it. When I was young the only gadget I could operate properly was a calculator, and the only things I could ever get to fly were paper planes and Coke Mentos Rockets (I feel ashamed when even 8 year beats me at flying drones). Kids these days manage to play around with so many different gadgets with utmost ease, so what happens if you give them 3d Printers and the power to create? They make rocket engine!!
Space technology was once considered to be limited to Government agencies because of the high cost involved however with the advancement in technologies and continuous cost reduction somewhere during the turn of the century we saw Billionaires like Elon Musk of SpaceX and Richard Branson of Virgin taking a leap of faith into this sector. Their gamble has certainly paid off; both the companies are making money and giving stiff competition to Nasa, Europeon space agencies and other government agencies. Their adventures with space travel technologies have open a whole new avenue for space enthusiasts and Universities to experiment in this sector.
A few years ago a group of UC San Diego students from the UC San Diego chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space made a 3d Printed Rocket engine and successfully tested it at an undisclosed location near Mojave Desert. However the Kids of this generation certainly did not stop here, they now have planned to break the world record for the longest 3D printed rocket flight which is currently held by the Bagaveev Corporation.
The 3d printed engine was printed with the sponsorship received from a Chicago based 3d printing service provider GPI Prototypes. The printed engine is around 10 inches long and weighs about 10 lbs but it is said that “Never judge a book by its cover”. Even if this engine may not be as massive as the rocket engines we know of, it can still pack a powerful thrust of 750 lbs.
Darren Charrier, a first-year engineering student at the school and business manager for SEDS was heard saying that “We’re going to break the world record for the longest flight of a 3D printed rocket engine,. We’re aiming for our rocket to fly 10,000 feet in the air. We all watched the first record being set a few weekends ago – the first 3D-printed rocket engine went 60 feet in the air.”
UC San Diego did their 1st successful test run of the 3d printed rocket engine was done at Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR), where their school also became the first university to successfully design, print and test a 3D-printed rocket engine.
Talking about the long drive to FAR’s venue, Charrier said “The last stretch of the drive to FAR is the longest, the drive takes five hours, and even longer for those towing the test stand! The fact that so many students were willing to make the trip this close to finals week really shows how passionate they are.”
We wish lots of luck to the team behind the 3D printed Rocket and hope to see a lot more inventions and innovations happen because of the open source culture this generation lives in.