NASA APPROVES PLAN TO 3D PRINT GIANT SPACESHIP PARTS IN ORBIT

NASA APPROVES PLAN TO 3D PRINT GIANT SPACESHIP PARTS IN ORBIT

NASA APPROVES PLAN TO 3D PRINT GIANT SPACESHIP PARTS IN ORBIT

Launching large man-made structures into orbit poses extraordinary challenges. But cutting-edge 3D-printing technology could make space manufacturing far more practical — by moving the manufacturing process into the near-zero gravity environment of outer space.

NASA just awarded Made In Space a $73.3 million contract to demonstrate 3D-printing spacecraft parts while in orbit using a small spacecraft called Archinaut One. The craft will attempt to print two 32-foot beams that will eventually be used to hold solar arrays to both sides of itself.

Archinaut One

Archinaut One is scheduled to launch on a Rocket Lab Electronrocket from New Zealand “no earlier than 2022” according to NASA.

“In-space robotic manufacturing and assembly are unquestionable game-changers and fundamental capabilities for future space exploration,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in a statement.

Today’s news is actually the start of the second phase of NASA’s partnership with Made in Space. Made in Space has already successfully 3D-printed a structural beam in a NASA facility that mimics the conditions of space in 2017.

But actual orbit will undoubtedly pose its own set of challenges.

Source: https://futurism.com/the-byte/nasa-approves-plan-3d-print-giant-spaceship-parts-orbit