Made In Space, a company specializing in 3D printers for use in microgravity, will soon launch a construction 3D printer aboard a 3D rocket created by Rocket Lab, a private aerospace manufacturer.
According to an article by 3D Printing Media, NASA awarded $73.7 million to Made In Space to explore the possibility of outer space robotic manufacturing and assembly. The spacecraft, named Archinaut One, is powered by 3D printed engines, and is expected to launch on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from New Zealand in 2022.
Archinut One will 3D print two beams that extend 32 feet from each spacecraft. Each beam will then “unfurl” two solar arrays, generating five times the power of traditional spacecraft solar panels.
According to the article, this combination of technology will also enable in-space construction of technology including communications antennae, large-scale telescopes, and other complex structures.
“In-space robotic manufacturing and assembly are unquestionable game-changers and fundamental capabilities for future space exploration,” Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s space technology mission directorate, told 3D Printing Media.
Made In Space began working on Archinut as a demo in 2016, and successfully printed structural beams in a unique NASA facility that mimics space conditions.
Source: 3D Printing Media