Futuristic rocket engines are produced through the combination of AI and 3D printing in LEAP 71.

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Accelerating Space Exploration: LEAP 71 and The Exploration Company Join Forces

The space race may be a thing of the past, but the spirit of exploration and innovation lives on in the private sector. Leading the charge is engineering company LEAP 71, which has partnered with spacecraft manufacturer The Exploration Company with a common goal: to accelerate space exploration through more efficient calculation and manufacturing models for designing space vehicles.

Utilizing a combination of artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing, LEAP 71 has developed a computational engineering model that enables the design of complex, high-performance rocket engines that can be 3D printed. By harnessing the power of AI and additive manufacturing, the partnership aims not only to reduce production costs but, more importantly, to accelerate innovation in the aerospace sector.

Additive manufacturing, particularly with metal, has a strong track record in aerospace and space exploration, as it enables the design and manufacture of finished parts for rockets and satellites. LEAP 71 and The Exploration Company aim to build upon these successes and improve upon them by reducing component weight and manufacturing time, ultimately offering a more viable business model and higher-performance spacecraft.

While some players in the industry focus on developing specialized machines for printing large parts, LEAP 71’s focus is on creating computational models that can offer greater complexity to parts that can be 3D printed today, such as rocket engines. This strategic direction aligns perfectly with The Exploration Company, a Franco-German company known for its modular, reusable orbital space vehicle called Nyx, designed to make space exploration more affordable.

Hélène Huby, Co-founder, and CEO of The Exploration Company, explains the rationale behind their collaboration with LEAP 71: “One of the challenges for reducing the cost of space exploration is the conventional approach to engineering. Complex parts like rocket engines are hard to design, and each iteration can sometimes require significant manual rework with traditional CAD-based tools. By using computational models, we aim to engineer faster, print and test faster, and ultimately accelerate the improvement and validation of our engines.”

LEAP 71 will leverage its computational engineering model to design various rocket engines, which will then be 3D printed for testing and eventual validation. The ability of additive manufacturing to offer different versions of a single product makes it the perfect choice for iterating and improving spacecraft components.

Josefine Lissner, Founder, and Managing Director of LEAP 71, expresses her excitement about the collaboration, stating, “We are eager to put our Computational Engineering Model to the test and gather real-world feedback to fine-tune it. We anticipate a tipping point in the space industry when our model successfully produces operational engines across a wide range of parameters. As each new test feeds back into the model, the resulting objects will improve exponentially. This is a critical stepping stone on our path to a space-faring society.”

While the industry eagerly awaits news and results regarding the first 3D-printed parts from this partnership, you can learn more about LEAP 71 on their website. Share your thoughts on LEAP 71 and The Exploration Company’s collaboration in the comments below or join the conversation on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly newsletter, delivering the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox. You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*All photo credits: LEAP 71

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