What if a 3D printer had been on board of the troubled spaceship Apollo 13? For sure the astronauts would have had an easier time. Instead of constructing an provisionally air filter with socks, plastic and duct tape, they would have printed it.
But manufacturing in space has a broader approach than just repairs: It could help NASA to construct structures and habitats for their Moon- and Mars-Missions. Driven by this vision, Students of the Singularity University Labs in California have started their company Made In Space. Their mission: Printing, where no man has printed before. After testing their 3D printers on parabolic flights, Made In Space and NASA will send the first 3D printer into space in August. Once aboard the International Space Station, the printer will provide basic tools and parts.
Wired Magazine did an interesting talk with top-experts in this field, Michael Chen (CSO Made In Space), Niki Werkheiser (Made in Space integration manager for NASA) and LaNetra Tate (Space Technology Mission Directorate program executive for additive manufacturing of NASA). If you want to know more about the challenges of printing in low-gravity and about space-travel-suited designs for tools and equipment, this video’s for you.
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