3D printed molds help to insulate NASA’s supersize Space Launch System

“To keep rockets from getting too hot during the extreme temperatures of launch, insulation is essential — but it’s not always easy to fit it into a spacecraft’s cramped machinery. Thanks to 3D printing, engineers working on NASA’s Space Launch System are creating custom molds that make insulating foam a perfect fit.

America’s powerful new deep space rocket, NASA’s Space Launch System, must be able to suffer extreme conditions and temperatures when it launches NASA’s Orion spacecraft and potential cargo to lunar orbit. Technicians and engineers have qualified 3D printing to aid in the application of the thermal protection system to the smaller, more intricate parts of the rocket. Spray-on foam or traditional insulation is applied to both large and small components of SLS; it protects the rocket from heat during launch and keeps the propellant within the large tanks cold. “

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