NASA preparing to launch 3-D printer into space
Last month, the space agency awarded Bothell, Wash.-based Tethers Unlimited $500,000 toward a project to use 3-D printing and robots to build massive antennas and solar power generators in space by 2020. It replaces the expensive and cumbersome process of building foldable parts on Earth and assembling them in orbit.
For Made In Space’s debut, when it’s shuttled up to the space station aboard a spaceflight cargo resupply mission, the initial prints will be tests — different small shapes to be studied for strength and accuracy. They’re also discussing with NASA about what the first real piece that they should print will be.
Whatever it is, it will be a historic and symbolic item sure to end up in a museum someday.
"It’s not something we’re discussing publicly right now," said CEO Kemmer. Then, Jason Dunn, the chief technology officer, beckoned, dropping his voice as he grinned.
"We’re going to build a Death Star," he joked softly, referring to the giant space station in the "Star Wars" movies that could blow up planets. "Then it’s all going to be over."