3D printing has had major impacts in the aerospace industry. Some of the most brilliant engineering minds have been put to the test designing parts for rockets that one day may blast off to carry astronauts as far as Mars. But there has been quite an outpouring of talent from those outside of NASA as well, with more on the way currently in the 3-2-1 Liftoff! ULA Rocket Hardware Challenge launched earlier this week through GrabCAD Community Challenges.
For this challenge, those participating are invited to design a launch support attachment bracket for the United Launch Alliance’s current Atlas V rocket. ULA acts as a leader for launch services and has sent at least 100 satellites into orbit so far. These satellites have been responsible for helping military personnel, meteorologists, enabling GPS devices—and most importantly, helping us to understand our solar system further. And while it’s exciting just to fall into the top designs chosen in a challenge like this, the winning design will actually be examined for use on the Vulcan Centaur, a next-generation rocket.
“We are transforming the future of space launch, and additive manufacturing is one of the innovative techniques we’re using to make space more affordable, accessible and commercialized,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. “The ULA Rocket Hardware Challenge invites people familiar with the industry and new to aerospace to participate in that transformation – the opportunity to design rocket hardware that will deliver critical technologies to orbit.”
This particular bracket is meant to act as support at the base of the Atlas V payload fairing, used during ground processing. While it will also remain with the upper stage of the powerful rocket during its flight, the bracket acts as a point of support for the work platforms being employed in the days before launch occurs.
The best three designs will be chosen, and judges include Tory Bruno, as well as engineers from both ULA and Stratasys, which partnered with ULA earlier this year to develop several 3D printed components for the Atlas V. Specifications follow from GrabCAD, with more technical information here as well.
“All portions of the bracket must remain within the envelope shown in the Part Design Envelope drawing (see Download Specification button). The part will be fastened to the vehicle interface at datum A using 4 bolts shown as holes (marked Hole Pattern D) in the envelope drawing. A load from the work platform will be applied uniformly on a surface located at datum B and will be fastened using 2 bolts shown as holes (marked Hole Pattern E) in the envelope drawing. The minimum edge distance surrounding all bolt holes shall be 2 times the diameter of the bolt hole.”
Your entry must include:
- Description of the bracket
- STEP/IGES formatted files
- Mass, Volume
- Load calculations
- ULA Compliance Certification form
- 1st Prize – $3,000 and ULA merchandise prize pack
- 2nd Prize – $1,000 and a ULA hat
- 3rd Prize – $500 and a ULA T-shirt