It seems like NASA is always working on something unique or innovative and that is, largely, because it is true. NASA recently took to the launch pad this week in order to test one of the most powerful rockets in the entire world, the RS-25. The RS-25 is a rocket engine that was built to help prepare NASA for their Space Launch System’s flight around the moon. The RS-25 looks and sounds impressive but what is going on under the hood will surprise you even more.

The RS-25 was unleashed at the NASA Stennis Space Center in St Louis, Mississippi. A video of the rocket-engine going off, using a thruster built from 3D printed parts, saw flames last for a total of 400 seconds. There are already cool, up-close and personal videos on YouTube for viewers to see the monster in action.

The primary goal of the recent testing for the RS-25 was to ensure that the entire machine was in good working order. The secondary aspect of the test was in order to properly analyze how effective the engine operated. The engine’s unique quirk is that it features a part made out of a 3D-printer. This part, called a pogo accumulator assembly, is roughly the size of a beach ball and is used as a shock absorber. The pogo accumulator assembly helps to soak up all of the humming and vibrating that transfers throughout the entire rocket.

NASA partnered up with Aerojet Rocketdyne in order to test out 3D printing as a viable alternative to creating parts while saving money. The goal of using 3D printing for making parts is to reduce costs while maintaining safety and improving quality. By 3D printing the pogo accumulator assembly, NASA was able to reduce how many welds that they needed to make during the production phase. Reducing the amount of welds helped to save NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne time and money. If the RS-25 is as successful as tests currently show, it is possible that NASA turns full-tilt toward 3D printing as a viable fabrication process.