NASA has installed the world’s first zero-gravity 3D printer on the International Space Station.
The world’s first zero-gravity 3D printer was installed by NASA on the International Space Station (ISS) on November 17, 2014. The addition of the 3D printer on the ISS will certainly help astronauts to manufacture additional equipment in times of need. This will be a first in the history of man’s space exploration.
NASA’s astronaut Barry Wilmore was leading the installation operation aboard the ISS. The printer was launched into orbit in September 2014, on the SpaceX 4 craft, that carried resupplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Made by a startup called Made In Space, the printer was created on the ISS in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG).
Lead engineer at Made In Space, Mike Snyder said, “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.”
The 3D printer is in an experimental stage currently and scientists will be waiting to see how this works. If all goes well, manufacturing hardware in space will be very fast and a much more cost effective method than creating it on Earth and then launching it.
The first set of test hardware that will be printed in space would be sent back to Earth for testing by NASA. Once it is authenticated, then production of proper equipment will begin.