The ISS is getting its own 3D printer

A little over fifty years ago, the world was amazed as human beings began trekking into outer space. Here we are in 2014 and the fascination of space has not fizzled out. In fact, we as humans continue to break barrier after barrier outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. The latest barrier is one which could eventually allow NASA to save millions of dollars in fuel costs, as well as increase the safety of astronauts, both stationed at the International Space Station, as well as traveling on other expeditions. A privately held company, Made In Space, has recently teamed with NASA to develop a 3D printer capable of being transported and used by astronauts on the International Space Station. After over 20,000 print hours of testing out various 3D printing technologies, Made in Space announced today that their 3D printer has passed final NASA certifications and testing, ahead of schedule.

Astronauts are closer to being able to manufacture tools and parts on demand in the International Space Station after Made In Space‘s 3D printer passed its final NASA test and had its launch date moved forward to August. NASA is interested in having a 3D printer aboard the space station because it will give astronauts the ability to create custom parts exactly when they need them. For example, after a spacewalk turned dangerous last year when an astronaut’s suit began to fill with water, the crew modified their suits with makeshift snorkels made from velcro and plastic tubing. A 3D printer could also be used for more mundane jobs like printing extra bolts, springs and tools for science experiments. “There’s literally billions of dollars of spare parts that have to be on the station because they never know what they’ll need,” CTO Jason Dunn said in an interview last year. “There’s times when a tool is needed and the tool didn’t exist.” Its first task aboard the ISS will be to print 21 test parts, video of which will be sent back to Earth and analyzed. One Made In Space knows the printer works and the items it produces are useable, it will work on increasing its build volume and adding new printing materials.

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Written by Chastity Mansfield

I'm a writer, an amateur designer, and a collector of trinkets that nobody else wants. You can find me on Noozeez, and Twitter.

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