Thanks for being here, everyone -- a great AMA with all of you. Thanks for all the questions, and hope you get a chance to watch the live Ustream of the Student Launch on Saturday, May 17.

NASA and ATK will host the Student Launch rocketry challenge at Bonneville Salt Flats in Tooele County, Utah May 15-17. This event challenges student teams from colleges and universities around the country to launch rockets carrying onboard science and engineering experiments they designed to heights up to 20,000 feet. One of the NASA programs that is a key supporter of this rocketry challenge is the Space Launch System, or SLS. SLS is the new rocket NASA is building managed out of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. SLS will be the biggest, most powerful launch vehicle ever built with the ability to take us further into the solar system than ever before.

ATK is based out of Brigham City, Utah and is the prime contractor for the solid rocket boosters that will be used for the first two, 70-metric-ton-flights of the SLS.

Signing off,

Bruce Tiller, deputy manager of the SLS Program Booster Office at Marshall

Gordon Russell, ATK Launch Systems project manager at Marshall

Julie Clift, education specialist and Student Launch planning team lead at Marshall

Eddie Jeffries, technical coordinator for Student Launch

Jason Stumfoll, intern for Student Launch

Shannon Ridinger, Marshall Center Public Affairs Officer

Comments: 346 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

GarlicAftershave68 karma

SLS seems to have encountered more criticism than average for a heavy launch vehicle. How has this affected your experience with the program?

Also, obligatory question about whether any of you have played Kerbal Space Program.

NASAEducation57 karma

Interesting question on criticism. Personally, agency level criticism does not effect me day to day because we are so busy working technical details in developing our booster - making sure it will be ready for launch. So when I see it in the news, it is a little frustrating, because I believe this rocket will provide a great capability, both for manned space flight and for unmanned science applications. But I don't personally spend any time worrying about it because I want to get this booster right for any mission. And no, I have not played Kerbal, but my son has told me about it and said I would love it. Bruce

NASAEducation46 karma

I'll let Bruce answer the SLS question, but I have played KSP, it's great fun. Seems like I might be one of the only ones though...


Tuesday_D8 karma

I'm also curious about how allowing SLS a longer timeline to operations has changed the program dynamics.

NASAEducation17 karma

Not sure I understand the question - can you elaborate? We have had the same launch dates since SLS began as far as I know.

FPSGamer4833 karma

Do you feel that soon the US will experience a resurgence of it's space obsession that will allow NASA a larger budget for space flights to other planets?

NASAEducation54 karma

I sure hope so. My 3 children are really excited about space and rockets and I wish for nothing more than an increase in American desire to reach beyond and do what we can do best. Gordie

NASAEducation27 karma

NASA has, historically, received strong support from Congress and our Presidents, so I'm guessing that the agency will continue to receive strong support, and a larger budget would surely help! I would love to see a surge in the space program that would mimic the excitement of the space program in the 60's. -Eddie

letdogsvote22 karma

For getting into the field, what college degrees are most useful?

NASAEducation40 karma

There are several different degrees which help when working on any space program. Mechanical, Aerospace, Electrical, Chemical, Systems, Environment Engineering are useful, but also business, accounting, and management degrees come in handy. -Eddie

NASAEducation19 karma

Hello out there, Thanks for being interested! Most folks I work with in the SLS Booster office are engineers by trade, but we have all kinds - mechanical, electrical, aeronautic, and materials at least. Personally, I have undergraduate degrees in geology and mechanical engineering and a masters in mechanical. I was a thermal analyst in my early years before I moved into project management. But any project like this takes hundreds of people, including financial and business expertise as well as engineering. But certainly engineering is the primary degree we use. Bruce

NASAEducation15 karma

I'm an Aerospace Engineer, I think that's most likely your best bet for getting a job at NASA, considering what we do. That being said, I have met a number of other various engineers at the center: chemical, nuclear, mechanical. Any engineering degree will you get a good start at a job though really. Answer taken with a grain of salt, I'm just an intern. :)


fuck_they_found_me14 karma

What does someone in the UK, currently in secondary school, need to do the become an engineer at NASA?

NASAEducation16 karma

To work directly for NASA, one has to be an American citizen. However, we have many contractor partners helping us build our SLS rocket that hire engineers from all different countries. Our engineers generally have degrees from accredited University in an engineering field and there are many different fields for engineers - aerospace, electrical, mechanical, industrial, chemical, environmental, etc. Good luck! -- Shan

NASAEducation7 karma

NASA offers a limited number of opportunities for international participation. Most projects are only available to students within the United States or its territories; and Department of Defense schools operating on U.S. Military Installations. However, there are several projects that will consider applications from international students.

One option you may wish to consider as you prepare for college is the NASA Academy. You can obtain information and how to apply at: . For information about all of NASA’s Education projects for students, please visit following Web page:

NASA offers a number of activities, contests, and other opportunities that are currently available for students. The list on the following Web page is updated as new opportunities are announced: - Julie

vaginawishbone14 karma

As someone who was pretty interested in rockets (from a huge interest in outer space) but could never afford the hobby as a kid or teenager, now that I'm older, where does one even begin getting into rocket design and whatnot?

NASAEducation15 karma

I think we've pretty much answered this question here. Take a look and let us know if you have more questions, we'd be happy to answer.


4quarters13 karma

What do you think of Russia's plan to build a super rocket capable of lifting up to 130 tonnes, and also colonize the moon by 2030?

NASAEducation16 karma

I hope it'll reinspire the US to have a space race again! :) - Julie

NASAEducation10 karma

I think it is definitely possible. The next stage of the SLS program is to develop their heavy lift vehicle that can carry 130t of payload to orbit. Combine that with the initial SLS lift capability of 70t to launch the astronauts into space and you have 200t of payload! :)

I really hope we as Americans can get there first! :) We've done it before and I know we could "win the race" again! We have brilliant minds and capabilities in the upcoming generations of youth that are looking toward the stars! Gordie

penguinkitten12 karma

What is your favorite thing about being part of NASA?

NASAEducation22 karma

Hey penguinkitten, my favorite thing is that it's a GREAT place to work. My job is a lot of fun. NASA was selected as one of the top places to work in the government. I work with college students on a daily basis who are building rockets for us. Additionally, I work with bringing on students as Pathways Interns. But, NASA is always working towards new and great things... which inspires me everyday. - Julie

NASAEducation17 karma

I love supporting an agency that is on the cutting edge of science and technology. People all over the country seem to be enamored with NASA, and I'm proud to be a part of that! -Eddie

EyesEvrwhr10 karma

How has the privatization of space missions effected NASA's future in Washington D.C.? Due to this competition, will NASA head into a more supervisory role (contracts, safety & mission planning) and away from actual building of rockets, vehicles & rovers?

NASAEducation12 karma

I think it takes both commercial and government involvement. The private launchers we are funding are designed to bring crew and cargo to Space Station, while the SLS rocket that NASA is developing, is built for non-routine, deep space exploration. So both paths are needed.

NASAEducation9 karma

Hi EyesEvrwhr, NASA has been going to low-earth orbit for a long time. We can now leave that to the private companies to continue that effort while we explore further. So in my opinion, the privatization only helps us to continue to support things like Space Station. NASA has many partners that help us do our job. Thanks! - Julie

gr3ave8 karma

What is a basic set you want to build a rocket yourself? Edit: And what are often made mistakes and how do I prevent them if I'm building a rocket myself?

NASAEducation13 karma

I think Eddie gave a good answer, for a first time build get a kit, then move on to designing your own rocket using a program like OpenRocket or RockSIM. Apogee Components is a good place to start. Look into any local rocketry clubs in your area to get some help from the experts.

edit: As for common mistakes, you shouldn't make many if you start with a kit build. The components are going to be strong enough for what it is made for, just be sure that you use a high quality epoxy and don't skimp. Let it cure fully. After the first launch the shock cord or parachute may have some damage. Be sure to inspect the rocket after each flight for any damage.


NASAEducation8 karma

If you're talking about hobby rockets, there are several inexpensive, commercially available kits that are a great way to get started. One of the most challenging aspects of building a hobby rocket is the recovery system(s). Be sure to seek guidance and advice from experienced rocketeers to be sure that you learn good habits and develop reliable recovery systems. -Eddie

commander_shep8 karma

My high school did SLI a few years ago. I was on the team in 6th, 11th, and 12th grade. No real question, just wanted to say that these guys did an amazing job at setting up this program. As a sixth grader, it was amazing getting to tour MSFC and The Arsenal. I was in awe, and super interested in Aerospace after this. Had it not been for SLI, I don't think I'd be where I am today. So thanks guys.

NASAEducation8 karma

Thanks! It's great to know that the program works. :)


commander_shep4 karma

I'd like to personally thank Eddie! He was super hands on, super helpful, and genuinely passionate about the program. I'm not saying anyone else wasn't, but I had the most contact with him.

NASAEducation6 karma

Ah man! It was my pleasure!!! You guys make my job fun!! Hope to see you again soon!!! -Eddie

NASAEducation5 karma

Thank you so very much!! We love all of our teams and hope that it inspires each person that does the program. Which team were you on? Are you in college now? :) - Julie

commander_shep3 karma

Yep! I'm at UAH, studying Aerospace. Hoping to get an internship at MSFC sometime soon!

NASAEducation2 karma

Did you apply through OSSI? Great to hear from you! I'm 99% sure I know which student you are! - Julie

commander_shep2 karma

I'm sure you do! There weren't many of us that got to do the program is 6th grade :) I haven't applied yet, I'm actually at Boeing right now. I plan on applying next this upcoming semester.

NASAEducation5 karma

AWESOME! The applications for fall are available now through June. I can't believe you are at Boeing! Good for you! - Julie

jedainz7 karma

How did you land your jobs?

NASAEducation10 karma

Hey everyone, I obtained a degree in Elementary Education and became a 5th grade math teacher. While I loved teaching, it wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I found a contractor job in the Education Office here at Marshall Space Flight Center. After 7 years, I went back to school and obtained a Masters in Human Resources Management. By going back to school, I became a co-op and eventually a civil servant. I love my job!! - Julie

NASAEducation7 karma


My name is Jason, I'm and intern working with Julie Clift on the Student Launch team. I don't know if I'm the best to answer this question being just an intern, but I can tell you that I got the job by being on my school's Student Launch team as an undergraduate. I was on the team for a year and then I became a lead for the team. Julie saw that on my resume and called me up to offer the job!


NASAEducation6 karma

I have degrees in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. I supported NASA Marshall Space Flight Center's Non Destructive Evaluation office that tested various space flight hardware flight and test articles for the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, and NASA's newer work. At a time when work in my specific office was running low, I applied for my current job and accepted an offer. -Eddie

Stoooooooo7 karma

How much impact do you see 3d printing having on the industry?

NASAEducation11 karma

I think that 3D printing will have a major impact in the manufacturing industry. I have had fun model rockets created by 3D printing on my desk for over 10 years. The technology has been around since the 1980s but only recently has it become much more economically available and the technology has improved dramatically. NASA employees at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) have already created a 3D rocket engine part and used it flawlessly in a real launch. The part they recreated was stronger and much cheaper than buying from an outside vendor. MSFC also has a Deep Space Habitat division where they are creating a mockup habitat of what astronauts might live in while travelling to Mars and they have shown that they can create needed tools or parts in space as they travel. I think that is an invaluable resource when you are away from your home on planet Earth and all the resources we have here! :)

I wonder if I can create a model of myself! :) (Actually a German company creates "Barbie" size replicates of people, for a price of course!)


NASAEducation10 karma

As an intern here at Marshall, we were taken on several tours. One of the big ones was to show us all the additive manufacturing capabilities that we have on center. There are a good number of people working on 3D printing here using it to create different parts. I know that they said they were making quite a few different things to be tested in rocket engines. They were all extremely hopeful there, telling us that printed parts were a fraction of the cost, many times quicker to produce, and gave nearly the same strength as machined components. That being said there is still a lot of work to do. Different printers give different material properties, and there is little oversight in the process. Part of the work they were doing there was qualifying different machines and processes, pinpointing the properties that a certain technique will give you to create a database that companies can point to in the future when ordering printed parts.


Echo_3756 karma

Project Constellation was developing the Altair lander along with the Orion, are there any plans to use the lander with the SLS Block II and return to the moon's surface for testing habitats intended for a future Mars mission?

NASAEducation10 karma

I just work the booster development, but I am not aware of plans to use that specific lander in the near future. I remember it was discussed in Constellation days that we would use the moon as an outpost, but I don't think we have that right now. The SLS rocket can certainly go to the moon and the first two test flights send the Orion around the moon and back, but no landers involved. Bruce

KingDaveRa6 karma

This may sound like an incredibly stupid question, but why do rockets have to be SO incredibly complex? Surely after all the years of development and progress in building them, they could be simplified and made cheaper. Or are they relatively simpler and thus cheaper than they used to be?

Also, I've always been confused as to why a rocket as we know them is necessary. I understand the earth's gravity has to be escaped, but can that not be achieved by launching like a normal plane, and spiralling up, then perhaps using some sort of smaller rocket motor to push out of the last bit of atmosphere? The U2 spy plane can get pretty high, so if it had a small rocket strapped to it, could it get higher? Expanding on that idea, something the size of a 747 could theoretically do the same? Or could it?

NASAEducation7 karma

Not a dumb question at all. It takes an enormous amount of energy to carry any decent amount of payload into space. That's why the Satern rockets were so big (Satern V - 363 ft tall, SLS is 321 ft tall) and the engines have to be so powerful. One fun fact I see is that our SLS rocket has the thrust of 135 jet engines on a 747 jet. Gravity has not changed since Satern, and basic rocket chemistry has not changed either - which is why the rockets are still very similar. Bruce

NASAEducation7 karma

Let me give you a quick answer on your second question first. Airplanes have engines that rely on "air" and can't operate once you get above a certain altitude where the "air" gets to thin. Plus you must remember that airplanes are able to fly based upon their lift that is created by pushing air over and under their wings (at different velocities based upon how far they must travel over or under). An airplane can't fly when it gets too high because their is no atmosphere to create the lift. Gordie

NASAEducation5 karma

And yes you could definitely start be taking a plane that can fly really high and then strap a rocket to it and launch from there. You should google a new concept by Stratolaunch Inc. (a Huntsville, AL company created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen). They are developing a low-cost satellite launching system using rockets made by Orbital Sciences Corp. The contract is to build the world's largest air-launched space rocket.

Great questions King Dave Ra!


NASAEducation3 karma

The U2 does get pretty high, about 70k ft by a quick search online. However the edge of space starts around 5 times that altitude, and the space shuttles goes quite a bit higher than that. Airplanes work in the atmosphere, they work by having air fly over the wings to produce lift. As you get into space there is less and less air. Not to mention the fact that airplanes use air-breathing engines. They don't work where there is no oxygen to burn. So you said it yourself, you still need a rocket, they carry all their own fuel and don't need extra oxygen to create lift. Also, the U2 gets up there by being incredibly efficient and not having a lot of extra weight it has to lift, like a rocket engine and payload. I know that they have looked into air launched vehicles, but it's not efficient, and doesn't end up saving any money to get things into space.


FreddyFuego5 karma

Rockets now run on a new type of fuel, Pancakes or Waffles. Which is it?

NASAEducation8 karma

Pancakes! They taste better, so they have to be a better fuel, right? =) Eddie

NASAEducation6 karma

I'm a waffle girl. - Julie

NASAEducation7 karma

I'm a Waffle house man, no pancakes for me, but honestly I prefer bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns over those.


FreddyFuego3 karma

What would the egg/bacon/brown ratio be for lift off?

NASAEducation11 karma

20/50/30. Gotta have a lot of bacon in there, that's where the real energy is. :)


NASAEducation3 karma

Well I know I can run off both waffles or pancakes or either, depending on my mood! Gordie

JustAnotherGraySuit5 karma

Beyond ion engines, what technologies are realistically feasible within the next generation to provide very high specific impulse propulsion? Is VASIMR anywhere near being ready for prime time, or does it seem like there may be some major hurdles left to cross? Are there lesser known technologies that have turned out to be promising, at least in theory?

I've heard that there has been a lot of work in low energy interplanetary transfer over the last decade. Has NASA actually found the math to hold up, or is that still mostly mathematical theories that have yet to work out in application?

NASAEducation5 karma

I'm not much of an "exotic propulsion" guy, but I know electronic propulsion has been used as a low thrust, high Isp alternative. -Eddie

ElGueroGringo4 karma

Simple question here, how fast can you possibly make a rocket these days?

NASAEducation6 karma

With experience, you could build an average sized high power hobby rocket in a week, although the more you rush, the easier it is to make a mistake. The lifecycles of NASA rockets varies from several months to many years, depending on the type, size, and mission. -Eddie

NASAEducation6 karma

Depends on what type and size of rocket you are referring to. Are you talking about a rocket like the size the college groups in the NASA Student Launch are creating or are you talking about NASA's SLS rockets? Gordie

ElGueroGringo3 karma

I'm asking about NASA's SLS rockets.

NASAEducation11 karma

To make one rocket doesn't really take that long. Back in the Shuttle days we could start a new rocket segment every week. (Remember the Shuttle rocket had 4 segments stacked on top of each other.) It took about 1-2 months to complete everything, including safety inspections, on each segment and then ship them to Florida to be stacked. The SLS rocket has 5 segments but it would still only 2-3 months to get all the parts to FL. What I did not include is how long it takes to stack the rocket booster in FL (of course times 2 since there are 2 boosters on the SLS vehicle). The SLS vehicle also includes the Core Stage which I have no knowledge on their manufacturing capability. The stacking of the whole integrated vehicle then has to occur.

Of course I'm only talking about the pure manufacturing timelines. You still have to take into account all the design and development time up front before you can start building a space vehicle. That timeline is dependent on the government budget allocated to space and the size of the workforce that can support the program.


Tuesday_D4 karma

Julie, I'm really wanting to go in to NASA Education - particularly at MSFC where I have already been looking into internship opportunities. After the Shutdown, the budget forceast for Education and Outreach in our government offices looked bleak. At the university I'm associated with right now, our outreach opportunities in many departments were tied to NSF funds and things are having to get creative - to put it positively.

This past week, an opportunity with a private corporation came across my desk and now I find myself weighing so many decisions. As I make the "trade studies" on my future I have to consider my personal job security against what I believe to be the greater good.

I believe that NASA education, particularly opportunities like this Launch event, is going to be essential to creating the broad scientific literacy that will ensure long-term support for the SLS and its goals.

... So what good news can you give us about the future of non-rocket scientists at NASA?

NASAEducation6 karma

Hi Tuesday_D!! Great question! There are currently not any open opportunites in our office... however, most people think to only look at USAJobs for opportunities. I was actually a contractor before becoming a civil servant. So check out the contract that supports the office, in this case, Aetos just received the new contract. They are likely to have more opportunities available. Additionally, it's always good to have a teaching degree to work in our office, if you don't already. There is also a new program called Pathways. If you are interested in going back to school, you can apply for the Pathways Intern opportunites on USAJobs. If you've graduated within the last two years, the Pathways Recent Grad opportunities are a better fit.
As far as the future of non-rocket scientists at NASA, there are more opportunities that people often don't think about. We have photographers, graphic artists, TV broadcasters, communications, human resources, protocol, and a number of other positions that support those great rocket scientists. I hope that helps answer your question! - Julie

Universu3 karma

Will the SLS Booster in EM1 be recovered? Can a Europa Clipper reach Jupiter’s Moon in less than 3 years using the SLS? Will the MegaFlex still make as a wing of the Orion? Is the Cygnus Service Module with Ultraflex solar Panel capable of being utilized as a space tug for Expandable Habital Modules? When will the Stratolaunch Pegasus launch? Aside from Rockets, Space Solar Panels will you not make a HumanSpaceship in the future?

NASAEducation4 karma

I can only answer one of these since I work the Booster. We were going to recover it under Constellation - in fact ATK developed and tested a new parachute system for that booster. But when SLS came about, the requirements and flight manifest changed and recovery was no longer the best cost option for our system. Bruce

ANewBreedofHipster3 karma

What is the hardest part about making a functional rocket?

NASAEducation4 karma

Coming from a non-engineer... the hardest part is calming your nerves right before and during watching your rocket fly. I did build and fly two rockets obtaining my level 1 and level 2 certification. So... anyone can build rockets. But, the hardest part for me, was seeing my rocket go out of eyesight and praying it would come back. It did! :) - Julie

NorbitGorbit3 karma

How much funding do you need vs how much funding do you get?

NASAEducation4 karma

Hey NorbitGorbit - As much as we can get!!!! (I know that's not a good answer, but we went from receiving 4% of the federal budget in the Apollo days vs. less than one half of 1% now). - Julie

NASAEducation3 karma

We could all use a little cash! :) Gordie

NASAEducation3 karma

Honestly it depends on how fast and how successful we want to be. If the Space Program had unlimited funds like they kind of did back in the Apollo days, then we could get back to the Moon and eventually Mars quicker, and with a vehicle that had every design feature in it that we wanted. Gordie

ThePsychedelicTheory3 karma

Would it be possible to make tours to the moon in a near future, like with those bus that drive around cities but instead we would get launched into space?

NASAEducation2 karma

I hope to see that type of technology in my lifetime! If it happens, you can sign me up! -Eddie

TannerFitzgerald3 karma

I don't know anything about rockets. What's a cool fact about rockets?

NASAEducation11 karma

Speaking specifically to NASA, the SLS will be able to launch the equivalent of 22 fully grown elephants as a payload. =) -Eddie

neanderhall9 karma

If some guy named Noah comes knocking on your door, please give me a heads up.

NASAEducation6 karma

Will do! - Julie

NASAEducation7 karma

And... it (SLS) will produce the horsepowere equivalent to: 208,000 Corvette engines or 17,400 locomotive engines. Wow! - Julie

TwoYaks2 karma

Hi Education peeps!

I used to be obsessed with space as a kid - growing up, Sally Ride was one of my biggest heroes, and I was positive I wanted to join the Air Force, be an engineer, and then fly space shuttles or some such. Over time, the normal foibles of life lead me to end up taking my career in a different route, and I've ended up a working scientist, but a Wildlife biologist instead - pretty far off from anything space related! I still have a deep passion for all things space exploration, though, and have wanted to be involved in sharing that interest in space with the next generation; I feel like space inspires people in a way my own field doesn't. Do you have any advice on how an 'expert' non-expert could get involved in outreach and education in that regards?

NASAEducation5 karma

Hey TwoYaks, I understand. I'm a non-engineeer myself and found a passion for NASA later in life. The first astronaut I met was Eileen Collins, the first female commander of the Space Shuttle. What an amazing woman! My degree was in education, so obviously NASA needs all kinds of people. I would recommend looking into programs, like the Solar System Ambassador for providing outreach and education. Here's the site: - Julie

Cablancer22 karma

What is the biggest amateur rocket each of you has flown? How high did it go?

NASAEducation8 karma

Hey Cablancer2! I'm not a huge hobby-rocket person, but have flown two. I hope to get back into it one day. My largest was on a J motor and flew to about 5,000 ft. What about you? - Julie

Cablancer25 karma

I have never flown a rocket myself but have assisted in the fabrication of a few. We are about to fly a Vmax L motor to 8k ft up in Kentucky this weekend if the weather holds out. If not we will try to fly in Wisconsin the weekend after that. The rocket is 6 inches in diameter and is being used to test CanSat hardware.

Personally I plan to get my level 1 cert this summer.

NASAEducation5 karma

Awesome! Fiberglass? I do hope to fly several more level 2 rockets one day. Not quite ready for level 3 yet! :) - Julie

NASAEducation6 karma

I made a 3" diameter rocket about 4' tall for my level 1 certification flight. I flew it on an I216 to about 3000'. I didn't have an altimeter on that one so I'm not certain. Had too big of a parachute though, I walked around for close to 3 hours looking for it. I went home without a rocket, but I was called up by the farmer who's land we were on and got it back several months later.

Currently I'm working on a level 2 rocket that will be electronic recovery with an IMU in a payload bay. It's a modified kit build, I'm planning on putting a J in it, haven't decided which one exactly.

NASAEducation4 karma

I've flown a 6" wide, 38 lb rocket to just over 14,000 ft with good recovery. -Eddie

Universu2 karma

Which is more powerful a Liquid or a Solid Rocket?

NASAEducation5 karma

That all depends on how big the rocket is (not dependent on whether it is liquid or solid). If you are talking current rockets that exists today then the largest solid rocket engine (one SLS booster) produces around 3.6 Mlbf of thrust and the largest liquid engine I can think of that has actually been used (the F-1 engine) creates around 1.5 Mlbf of thrust. Notice that usually when someone uses a liquid engine they group together 3 or 4 or 5 engines to get enough thrust. It all depends on what your design requires.

Honestly I think the best space vehicle needs a hybrid of both solid and liquid rockets. The solids will give you the best thrust to get out of Earth's orbit and the liquid rockets to support that and then provide additional needed thrust and maneuverability while operating in space.


rgbarishian2 karma

Why do we need the new SLS and not use the one that was used during the Apollo missions?

NASAEducation4 karma

The technology on Apollo was less than what your cell phone can do now. We've taken certain aspects of Apollo and Shuttle, developed some lessons learned, and recreated a newer, better rocket. I usually tell my students when they ask about why we retired the shuttle.... "Would you like to be driving a car that was built in the 1970's?" (or in the Apollo case... many years before that?) :) - Julie

luizluiz2 karma

What are the big differences in rocket engine designs since the 60's? I mean, the F-1 engine is an engineering marvel even by today's standards, what are some of the improvements we can make today?

Now a miracle: can you help an Aerospace Engineering and Physics student form Brazil get an internship (1-year study abroad program) at NASA?

NASAEducation3 karma

Hey luizluiz - I'll answer your second question: NASA offers a limited number of opportunities for international participation. Most projects are only available to students within the United States or its territories; and Department of Defense schools operating on U.S. Military Installations. However, there are several projects that will consider applications from international students.

One option you may wish to consider as you prepare for college is the NASA Academy. You can obtain information and how to apply at: . For information about all of NASA’s Education projects for students, please visit following Web page:

NASA offers a number of activities, contests, and other opportunities that are currently available for students. The list on the following Web page is updated as new opportunities are announced: . - Julie

AricYael2 karma

I want to go into NASA, but I am not sure what major to take, base in your personal experience, Would it be better to be into multi-disciplinary majors? Or should I specialize in one specific field?

NASAEducation4 karma

Hi AricYael - I would recommend looking at what interests you first. For example, Marshall primarily works propulsion. Each of the ten NASA Centers has different expertise. Because of being a propulsion center, we hire mostly aerospace and mechanical engineers and less of electrical, physics, and science majors. But, as I said, look into which Center fits your interests. - Julie

nebulouscloud2 karma


NASAEducation3 karma

I don't know exact percentages but in order the design costs are the greatest, manufacturing costs are the second highest, and the actual fuel probably comes in third. Gordie

NASAEducation3 karma

Generally, the biggest cost of a project, both in time and money, is the development (design stage). Manufacturing costs less, and the fuel costs less. Generally speaking.... -Eddie

nebulouscloud1 karma


NASAEducation1 karma

Our pleasure!

stphn672 karma

Where would NASA be if they had the same budget the US Army has had in the last 10 years?

NASAEducation2 karma

Everywhere :) - Jason

ddutchie2 karma

Firstly, go space!!

I'm an architecture student building a center for colonization preparation in Hakskeen Pan, South Africa.

It involves colonist training and research laboratories dedicated to building modules for deep space habitats

What would be my best bet getting these colonists and modules into space. Realistically using today's logistics how would i get my colonists and modules to a international launch pad.

What sizes am i working with. What is the radius of my workspace?

Colonists could fly with a helicopter to a airport and then to the States or Russia but my modules cant dangle from the air.

tldr: what is the volume for transportation within these rockets?

NASAEducation2 karma

I'd go with the size of an ISS module. Take a look here to get some basic numbers. Hope this helps. - Jason

emcniece1 karma

Hobby time: what is the smallest conceivable budget for getting a cell phone-sized payload into low orbit? How would you do it?

Kerbal Space Program has been a massive inspiration and I have grown to harbour a huge amount of awe for NASA. Thanks for doing an AMA!

NASAEducation2 karma

About 2 million. I'm working on a project called Nanolaunch 1200 that is doing almost exactly that. Slightly more than a cellphone, cubesats if you know what they are. The initial goal was 1.2 million, but the last estimate I heard was close to 1.8 million. - Jason