NASA Carrying Out Testing for Innovative 3D Printing in Space
NASA is gearing up to launch a 3D printer into space next year – a move that could very much establish a significant change in how space flight is approached and undertaken.
Rather than having to load up with a large supply of tools and spare parts, as well as in extreme cases having to abort missions due to missing equipment, a 3D printer would serve as a factory in space that can reproduce an infinite amount of crucial objects.
Dave Korsmeyer, Director of Engineering at NASA’s Ames Research Centre, commented: “If you want to be adaptable, you have to be able to design and manufacture on the fly, and that’s where 3D printing in space comes in”.
NASA have undertaken an extensive usability testing program for their new project, since the current range of 3D printers available have all been designed for use on Earth, so they do not address the challenges presented by space travel, such as variable temperatures, differing air pressure and of course, zero gravity.
If successful with their testing phase though, 3D printing in space could represent a “giant leap” forwards towards the possibility of living in space, with the printing of oxygen, food and water being the next hurdles to overcome!
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