NASA Administrator Charles Bolden looks at models of J-2X and RS-25 rocket engines during a Feb. 22, 2013, visit to NASA's National Center for Advanced Manufacturing Rapid Prototyping Facility at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Credit: NASA/Emmett Given.
› View Larger Image, Expanded Caption Administrator Bolden and Frank Ledbetter, chief of the nonmetallic materials and manufacturing division at Marshall, look at a prototype of a part for the core stage of the Space Launch System, NASA's future heavy lift rocket that will send humans farther into space than ever before. Credit: NASA/Emmett Given NASA Administrator Charles Bolden toured a cutting-edge facility at the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center, where high-tech manufacturing is creating parts for a next-generation rocket that will launch astronauts to more distant destinations than ever before.
NASA's National Center for Advanced Manufacturing Rapid Prototyping Facility is just one of the ways the agency is helping to revitalize America's manufacturing sector. According to a study by the Washington-based Tauri Group, the agency contributed $5 billion to U.S. manufacturing industry in 2012.
Specifically, the study found development of NASA's Space Launch System had cumulatively contributed about $930 million to the chemical, machinery, transportation equipment, fabricated metal and computer and electronic product manufacturing sectors.
"Our team's innovative work here at Marshall and the NASA National Center for Advanced Manufacturing is just one example of how NASA is helping to reinvigorate America's manufacturing sector," Bolden said. "As NASA pushes the boundaries of exploration, our use of innovative techniques will allow us to build parts for everything from satellites to spacecraft more quickly and more affordably."
NASA is utilizing 3-D printing at six of its field centers to create a diverse portfolio of parts, from small satellites to rocket engines. During his visit to Marshall Space Flight Center, Bolden watched a process known as selective laser melting create complex parts for the J-2X and RS-25 rocket engines without welding. Additive printing, also called 3-D printing, is an advanced manufacturing process that saves time and reduces the cost of creating component parts for what will be the largest launch vehicle ever built.
NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate is developing the crosscutting, advanced and pioneering new technologies need for NASA's current and future missions. These investments will be a catalyst for the creation of technologies and innovation needed to maintain NASA leadership in space while also benefiting America's economy.
› More on Selective Laser Melting
› More about President Obama's plan to make America a magnet for jobs