Houston, We Have a Printer: To Boldly Print Where No One Has 3D Printed Before

While most of us spent Christmas Eve spending time with family, American astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins were out for a walk . . . 260 miles above Earth. Conducting what was only the second Christmas Eve spacewalk in NASA’s history, the two astronauts successfully replaced an ammonia pump module, which is a massive component of the International Space Station’s (ISS) cooling systems. The spacewalk was ordered after the ISS was determined to be in “too vulnerable a state” to wait for supplies from an unmanned rocket scheduled for January.

The good news is that the astronauts were able to fix the problem with what they had on board, but this situation does highlight one of the scariest parts of space travel: spare parts can’t just be delivered by a drone in 30 minutes (yet).

However, a new project this year might one day offer a solution to delivery challenges—NASA is preparing to launch a 3D printer into space. The printer, built by Silicon Valley startup Made In Space, will be the “first device to manufacture parts away from planet Earth,” according to the company’s website.

Aaron Kemmer, CEO of Made In Space, told the Associated Press, “Imagine an astronaut needing to make a life-or-death repair on the International Space Station. . . . Rather than hoping that the necessary parts and tools are on the station already, what if the parts could be 3D printed when they needed them?” … (Read more)

spacestation

Source: Article-3.com

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