NASA plans to send a 3-D printer into space next year, a tool that could dramatically improve the self-sufficiency of space missions. Designed by tech start-up Made in Space, the printer will be the size of a microwave and built to withstand the vibrations of take-off and landing.
As BBC News reports, 3-D printing in space could be a life-saving development. “Imagine an astronaut needing to make a life-or-death repair on the International Space Station,” said Aaron Kemmer, Made in Space’s chief executive. As opposed to having to wait months or years for replacement parts, 3-D printing will allow astronauts to create specific tools for repairs in just minutes.
3-D printing could solve countless problems in space exploration, including the difficulty of meeting human’s nutritional needs. NASA is in the early stages of testing 3-D printed foods for their nutritional value and shelf stability. While a 3-D printed space donut may have to wait, NASA has put up some cash for the development of a 3-D pizza printer, which they hope will pair well with freeze-dried ice cream.
Made In Space engineers test 3-D printers in microgravity. www.madeinspace.us