NASA contracts demo of 3D-printing spacecraft parts in orbit

Space Exploration

NASA contracts demo of 3D-printing spacecraft parts in orbit

Priya Wadhwa
Space Exploration
Published:
NASA contracts demo of 3D-printing spacecraft parts in orbit
NASA explores Spacecrafts Made In Space

NASA wants to bring 3D printing to space. It has contracted Made In Space for $73.3 million to demonstrate the ability of Archinaut One to 3D-print spacecraft parts in orbit.

According to plans, the robotic manufacturing ship will launch into the orbit in 2022 or later, aboard the Rocket Lab Electron rocket. Engadget reported that the Archinaut One plans to “3D-print two 32-foot beams on each side, with each unfurling two solar arrays,” which could produce solar panels that are five times more powerful than what one would normally find, according to NASA.

Previously in 2017, Made In Space has demonstrated the 3D-printing of beams using simulated space conditions.

If this venture is successful, it could revolutionise the spacecraft manufacturing industry, lead to fewer spacewalks, and essentially build self-sustaining spacecrafts and satellite repairing machines. Can you imagine an army or robots working in space with little human involvement?