Published : 2013-09-30 14:44
Updated : 2013-09-30 14:44
NASA plans to install 3-D printers in spaceships due to be launched next year, allowing astronauts to produce the necessary tools and components on the spot.
“Any time we realize we can 3-D print something in space, it’s like Christmas. You can get rid of concepts like rationing, scarce and irreplaceable,” said inventor Andrew Filo, who is consulting with NASA on the project.
Currently, 3-D printers on the market have a wide range of prices starting from $300, with primary functions not for space projects. NASA commissioned a Silicon Valley venture company named Made In Space to build a customized 3-D printer that can run in space shuttles. The project could possibly alter the inventory in spacecraft by offering alternatives to heavy reserve materials.
In the long term, 3-D printers could also become a gamechanger in managing spacecraft. NASA has agreed to offer a fund to a Washington-based firm Tethers Unlimited to develop the necessary technology to assemble large antennas and solar light power generators in space through 3-D printers and robots by 2020.
By Yoon Ha-youn, Intern reporter