NASA’s J-2X rocket engine is on the test stand and ready for its second round of tests, building on last year’s successful test-firings that by some metrics were the most successful rocket engine firings NASA has ever undertaken. The J-2X will provide upper-stage power propelling NASA’s next-gen Space Launch System (SLS) from the upper atmosphere out into deep space after the first stage is jettisoned.
To test future rocket designs, NASA is employing an age-old bar trick: Slowly and deliberately apply pressure to an aluminum can until it crumples. No foreheads will be involved, however.
In late March, engineers will use a million pounds of force to crush a 27.5-foot diameter, 20-foot-tall canister made of aluminum and lithium, hoping to learn more about shell buckling so they can design sturdier rocket skins.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.