Illustration of the Seed Craft. Image via Made In Space.

Made In Space plans to turn asteroids into spaceships using 3D printing technologies

Made In Space, the California-based pioneers of off-world 3D printers, plans to use 3D printing to turn asteroids into autonomous spacecrafts that may probably fly to mining stations in outer area.

This plan is a part of the Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata (RAMA) Project, which is funded by NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. Through the RAMA Project, Made In Space goals to allow area colonization with environment friendly and economically viable off-world manufacturing, i.e. Microgravity 3D printers.

Illustration of the Seed Craft. Image via Made In Space.
Illustration of the asteroid spacecraft. Image by way of Made In Space.

The asteroid spacecraft

The idea for the autonomous asteroid spacecraft derives from astronauts changing into much less dependant on earthly sources and as an alternative using new and extraterrestrial supplies for help. In a current article, James Dunn, Co-Founder and Director of Made In Space said:

“We have the ability to bring resources from Earth but when we get to a tipping point where we need the resources in space, then the question becomes, ‘Where do they come from and how do we get them, and how do we deliver them to the location that we need?’ This is a way to do it.”

Regolith, the mud and soil layer of fabric masking rocks discovered on Earth, Mars, and the Moon, has previously been proposed to be used in off-world construction. This is due to it being a useful resource of chemical components and compounds, equivalent to metals and minerals, which can be wanted to assist the fabrication of elements or construct buildings on planetary surfaces.

Considering this, Made In Space will use a robotic “Seed Craft” to harvest materials from area rocks and put it to use as feedstock for assemble propulsion, navigation, energy-storage and different key methods onsite alongside 3D printing and different technologies.

Illustration of the asteroid spacecraft. Image via Made In Space/illustration by Zoe Brinkley.
Illustration of the asteroid spacecraft. Image by way of Made In Space/illustration by Zoe Brinkley.

Thus, the conversion of near-earth asteroids into autonomous spacecrafts can probably be programmed to fly to a mining station in Earth or Space, to acquire extra sources for astronauts in want. 

This plan surpasses earlier strategies that included launching seize probes to particular person area rocks for exploration. Nevertheless, the asteroid spacecraft is not going to have rocket engines or complicated digital circuitry discovered on conventional spacecraft; moderately its construct can be simple and mechanical.

“Project RAMA is not starting from scratch. Autonomous 3D printers that use mechanically driven systems already exist, as do mechanical computers made of 3D-printed parts,” added Dunn.

The NIAC program will present $100,000 for feasibility research as Made In Space plans to full and efficiently execute an asteroid spacecraft by 2030.

Pioneering off-earth manufacturing

Made in Space gained notoriety for being the primary to put 3D printers on the International Space Station (ISS). 3D Printing Industry additionally interviewed Made In Space on its newly developed Archinaut system –  a set of technologies that allow orbital fabrication.

Furthermore, in 2017, Made In Space was awarded a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract for the event of its Vulcan Hybrid Manufacturing System.

According to Dunn, Made In Space is now relying on NASA to advance in-situ useful resource utilization (ISRU) expertise – the flexibility to stay off sure lands – to additional progress the RAMA Project.

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Featured picture reveals an illustration of the asteroid spacecraft. Image by way of Made In Space.



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