After nearly two years of R&D, and testing several different commercial 3D printers in zero gravity, NASA has partnered with Made in Space to develop a 3D printer for use on the Moon, Mars, and elsewhere in the solar system. It will be certified and launched next year for initial deployment on the International Space Station. (Source: Made in Space)
According to the Made in Space press release, they tested various 3D printers back in 2011. Perhaps they were done on the ISS or maybe even on NASA's 'Vomit Comet' plane. Still it's interesting to see where this will lead!
Good point, elizabeth. But it think it depends on what branch of government. If building on the moon was a matter of national security, there would be a budget for it. The original space program was an elaborate national security effort to keep up with and eventually surpass, the Soviet Union. That's why it was well funded. When the space program was no longer viewed as a national security efflort, the funding dried up.
You're right, Rob, the technology is there...I just don't think the budget is! I used to write about the government space and to my recollection, they had a lot of budget cuts and financial worries there. So perhaps that's why this is all stalled even though the technology is there. With 3D printing and other technologies making things easier and cheaper, perhaps it will get a kick start.
Like you, Elizabeth, I don't have high hopes for the bill, but I like it that the idea is getting discussed. I also like the idea that the tools for creating a habitat on the moon are getting developed.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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