by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Nov 18, 2014
The International Space Station is now home to a 3-D printer, after NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore spent most of Monday unpacking and installing the machine. He and his colleagues will soon begin experimenting with additive manufacturing in microgravity.
The printer was engineered by the California-based company Made In Space and delivered to the space station in late September, but its installation had to be put off while astronauts wrapped up a few time-sensitive experiments.
If the new printer works properly in space, it could help ISS astronauts become more self-sufficient -- allowing them to design and print their own tools and gadgets right on board instead of waiting for another resupply cargo ship to be launched from Earth.
To ensure the printer is unaffected by microgravity, astronauts will begin by printing a pair of "engineering coupons." The coupons will be sent back to mission control where they'll be compared to coupons that were printed before the machine was packaged and shipped into outer space.
"This is a very exciting day for me and the rest of the team. We had to conquer many technical challenges to get the 3D printer to this stage," Made In Space lead engineer Mike Snyder said in a company press release. "This experiment has been an advantageous first stepping stone to the future ability to manufacture a large portion of materials and equipment in space that has been traditionally launched from Earth surface, which will completely change our methods of exploration."
Snyder and his colleagues are confident in their work and expect the machine to perform as advertised.
"We have really high expectations for it printing," Jason Dunn, the company's chief technology officer, said in an interview earlier this year. "We've done all the zero gravity research we could on the airplane. (But) there's always the things we can't test that you can only do once you're up there."
Station at NASA
Station and More at Roscosmos
S.P. Korolev RSC Energia
Watch NASA TV via Space.TV
Space Station News at Space-Travel.Com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|