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Nasa sends 3D printers to space
NASA and California-based startup Made in Space have collaborated to make 3D printing possible in zero gravity.
Part of mission SpaceX-4 – that is estimated to launch on September the 19th – the printer will be used to test whether 3D printing can be as effective and trustworthy in outer space, as it is on earth. The vision behind this mission is to incorporate fully functional 3D printers in future NASA expeditions.
“It’s the size of a small microwave, and it may alleviate the need for NASA astronauts to wait for resupply ships to arrive at the International Space Station to get some essential items,” announced NASA in a statement.
NASA aims to decrease its dependability on earth while a mission is underway. 3D printers could offer immediate solutions to problems without having to communicate and consult the space station on Earth. In the case of a broken part on board, astronauts will be able to print a brand new part on the spot by simply pressing a button without having to carry spare parts with them or rely on backup from Earth to send them replacements.
“I remember when the tip broke off a tool during a mission,” recollects NASA astronaut TJ Creamer. “I had to wait for the next shuttle to come up to bring me a new one. Now, rather than wait for a resupply ship to bring me a new tool, in the future, I could just print it.”
The successful implementation of 3D printing in NASA missions could be translated in longer and more sustainable expeditions in outer space. NASA would not only benefit in terms of efficiency and duration of missions but it would also enjoy lower operational costs.
First it was man and space dogs, now it’s 3D printers. What will be the next thing going up into space? Let us know what you think in the comment box!