January 12, 1999
QuestChat with Kelly McEntire
Turbomachinery Branch Chief
NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH
- 5 - 09:28:57 ]
Hello to our early arriving chat participants! Today's Aerospace Team
Online chat with Kelly McEntire from NASA Lewis Research Center will
begin at 10:00 a.m., Pacific Standard Time. Be sure you have read Kelly's
profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/team/mcentire.html
before joining this chat.
- 6 - 09:29:27 ]
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- 7 - 09:29:55 ]
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- 8 - 09:30:17 ]
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- 17 - 10:06:35 ]
Hello and welcome to today's Aerospace Team Online chat with Kelly McEntire
from NASA Lewis Research Center. Kelly is involved in jet engine engine
research. He manages a group of 12 engineers that turn the ideas of the
groups' lab rocket scientists, also known as aeropropulsion researchers,
into reality. All members of the team are involved in mechanical engineering
and, as Kelly explains, the job of an engineer is to turn the ideas of
today into the realities of tomorrow.
- 19 - 10:06:56 ]
And now, here is Kelly McEntire to answer your questions.
- 26 - 10:11:15 ]
How are you making jet engines more powerful and fuel efficient?
The thrust in today's research is not to make them more powerful, we already
know who to do that. It is to make them quieter, faster, less polution,
and of course more fuel efficient. There are many ways that are being
looked at to make engine more fuel efficient. I am a mechanical engineer,
a chemical engineer could better answer that questions. Some ways that
I am aware of are to make them burn hotter and to improve the way fuel
is injected into the engine.
- 29 - 10:13:21 ]
What new alloys make jet engines lighter?
We are trying many different kinds of materials which include aluminum
alloys and graphics composite materials. We must use alloys that have
a high heat tolerance so they won't melt when the fuel burns. Higher temperature
usually means more efficient enginers.
- 30 - 10:14:25 ]
RE: [Christina-MMrs.Choate/ViennaGrade] In
the future, if you wanted to travel in space for a year, how much do you
think it would cost?
I think we will be able to buy a ticket to space in another 10 years.
It will still cost a lot. Maybe $5000 for a 1 hour ride up into space.
- 31 - 10:16:55 ]
Have you had any problems with space engine designs?
The biggest problem with space engine design is that you have to carry
oxygen with you. Oxygen is heavy. The atmosphere up to a certain point
has lots of oxygen already present, so we are trying to come up with an
engine that will burn the oxygen from the air when its present so you
don't have to carry the extra weight and once you get up so high there
is not enough oxygen to help burn the fuel, it then uses it own that is
carried on board.
- 33 - 10:18:35 ]
RE: [Katie-MMrs.Choate/ViennaGrade] Over 20
years from now, what kind of clothes do you think we will wear in outerspace?
We will probably still wear the same types of spacesuits. If you are floating
outside a rocketship, you'll need lots of protection. If you are inside
like in the International Space Station, almost any cloths will do.
- 35 - 10:20:27 ]
RE: [Asley-MMrs.Choate/ViennaGrade] At about
the time you retire, what kind of food do you think we will eat in outerspace?
It is hard to predict the future. We will always need the basics like
milk, grains and vegetables. Hopefully the food engineers will be able
to come up with food that is not dried out like what astronauts eat today.
- 37 - 10:24:43 ]
Are you using any new types of fuel for spaceships?
No, the basic fuels are still hydrogen and oxygen. A rocket engine burns
about twice as much hydrogen as oxygen and so it takes much larger tanks
to carry it. Hydrogen is also a gas so it has to be compressed or it would
take up way too much room. The more we compress it the less room it takes
up. We are trying to come up with ways to compress it more or as we call
it to densify it. This will allow us to go further with the same size
- 38 - 10:25:18 ]
For those of you interested in chatting with other NASA experts, be sure
to check our online schedule of events, at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/events.
- 41 - 10:27:50 ]
RE: [kACEY-MMrs.Choate/ViennaGrade] MMrs.Choate/ViennaGrade
In about 20 years from now, which planets do you think we could visit?
I think we will visit Mars within the next 20 years. Today, we are trying
to figure out how to send a rocket there. The problem is not can we do
it? The problem is will the american taxpayers pay the 100's of billions
of dollars it would take to get there?
- 42 - 10:29:30 ]
We will be presenting a special series of chats in celebration of Black
History Month. Be sure to check our schedule of chats for Black History
Month at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/ltc/special/mlk99.
- 44 - 10:31:40 ]
We will also be offering a series of chats celbrating "female firsts."
Check our chat schedule for these events, at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/schedule.html.
- 45 - 10:32:02 ]
How does computer technology aided in the design of the jet engine?
Yes, we use computer aided design or CAD as we call it all the time. We
use software packages call solid modelers that we design the engine with.
We are able to see the engine in its entirety before we even build the
first part. This helps us to avoid errors and helps us get it right the
- 46 - 10:33:11 ]
We would like to remind you to share your thoughts about today's chat
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- 48 - 10:34:22 ]
How high can a plane with a jet engine fly?
I do now know for sure, but I think the upper reaches of the atmosphere
where there is not enough oxygen to help burn fuel is at about 100,000
feet or about 20 miles. Specials engines can burn at higher altitudes.
The oxygen gets thinner and thinner.
- 53 - 10:36:51 ]
What are the frequent modes of failure in the jet engines?
The failure mode that we are most concerned with is a blade in the rotor
breaking off. These blades are spinning about about 15,000 revolutions
per minutes or 15 Krpm. If ones breaks off, the centrifugal energy will
propel it like a bullet. It can fly through into the cabin of the aircraft
and kill someone or bring the whole aircraft down.
- 57 - 10:41:09 ]
RE: [Dean-Mr.Richard/homeschool] What current
project are you involved in?
As a supervisor of a group of engineers, we work on many different projects.
Each 1 or 2 engineers are working different projects. One of these projects
is called High Speed Research or HSR. We are tyring to develop an engine
for the next generation Concord, except this time this aircraft would
be used by everyone flying from LA to Tokyo or from New York to Toyko,
etc. It would fly at 15000 mph. Another project is one to figure out why
jet engines are so noisy. Believe it or not, we don't understand where
all the noice comes from. If you have ever been at the end of a runway
and heard a jet plane taking off you know how loud it is. Many airports
around the world are making laws so planes can't make so much noise are
certain times of the day, i.e. when people are trying to go to sleep.
- 60 - 10:43:14 ]
What are the ups and downs with working with jet engines?
Ha, ha. Mostly things are up. The downs are when you learn that Congress
doesn't think building a next generation Concord is important enough to
give money to it like they just did. The HSR project is being cut way
- 61 - 10:44:36 ]
How long do jet engines last?
Jet engines last many years. Engines can be repaird just like a car engine
to make them last longer. Parts that wear out are replace.
- 62 - 10:46:21 ]
RE: [Dean-Mr.Richard/homeschool] What kind
of plane/plane engine has benifited man the most?
I think type of plane that has benefitted man the most is the passenger
jet. It given all of us the ability to travel virtually anywhere on earth
whenever we want to.
- 63 - 10:47:55 ]
Are there any plans to make any new designs in space vehicles?
Oh yes. The space shuttle is way too expensive to use. We need much cheaper
way to get to space, to get satellites up in space, etc. We are working
on seveal new rocketships to do this.
- 65 - 10:48:59 ]
Who designed the stardust mission?
I don't know anything about the stardust mission. It sounds like something
the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasedena, California might do.
- 66 - 10:50:00 ]
RE: [Dean-Mr.Richard/homeschool] Can planes
that use rotors like, say, the Osprey can they go hiegher due to the less
I am now familar with the Osprey, so I don't know.
- 68 - 10:51:25 ]
RE: [KellyMcEntire/LeRC] I am now familar with the Osprey,
so I don't know.
That should have come out, I am not familiar with the Osprey.
- 70 - 10:54:31 ]
What could be challenging in the international space station?
A big challenge will be for the astronauts to stay physically fit when
they are up there for many months. In a weightless environment, your muscles
don't have to do anything. It is almost like lying in bed for several
months. Another challenge will be to get it assembled since it is a very
complex beast. There are bound to be unforseen problems that will have
to be overcome. When something go wrong in space, you can't run to the
hardware store to get something to fix it.
- 71 - 10:57:01 ]
What advice could you give to young people about a career in science?
Don't let science or math scare you. It is fun. Science describes everything
around you. We take for granted the many things that surround us, but
all many made objects are there because someone was interested in science.
Things that occur naturally can be desribed with science.
- 73 - 10:59:43 ]
RE: [KellyMcEntire/LeRC] Don't let science or math scare
you. It is fun. Science describes everything around you. We take for granted
the many things that surround us, but all many made objects are there
because someone was interested in science. Things that occur naturally
can be desribed with science.
When an apple fell on the head of Sir Issac Newton, he figured out a way
using math to desribe its fall. This was Calculus. Calculus is not something
scarey, but something cool, because it describes nature.
- 75 - 11:00:32 ]
Yokayo school has a science club for upper elementary students. We are
going to space camp, and to the Jason Project this year. The students
are very excited about space and NASA. Thank you for your time answering
our questions. Have a great day.
- 74 - 10:59:53 ]
At this time, we would like to thank everyone for joining us for today's
Aerospace Team Online chat with Kelly McEntire from NASA Lewis Research
- 76 - 11:00:37 ]
A very special thanks to Kelly McEntire for sharing his time, experiences,
and expertise with us online today.
- 77 - 11:01:47 ]
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and share your thoughts about today's chat with us.
- 78 - 11:02:19 ]
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- 79 - 11:02:37 ]
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