One Giant Leap for 3D Printing as NASA Plans to Launch the Tech Into Space

By Gerald Lynch on at

Spacewalking astronaut repairmen need never worry about misplacing their allen keys in the never-ending void of space again, as NASA has today announced plans to send a 3D printer up into space to help with repairs and the construction of spare parts beyond our atmosphere.

The printer (to be made by technology start-up Made in Space), will need to be able to survive the insane vibrations that occur during lift-off, as well as having to pass the stringent safety tests that will ensure it can withstand the rigours of a gravity-deprived life. If all goes well though a 3D printer could lead to massive savings for NASA, reducing the cost of repairs and being a potential life-saver should a ship part unexpectedly fail.

"Imagine an astronaut needing to make a life-or-death repair on the International Space Station," Aaron Kemmer, the company's chief executive, told the BBC.

"Rather than hoping that the necessary parts and tools are on the station already, what if the parts could be 3D printed when they needed them?"

From the looks of the latest Gravity trailer, someone should pop one of these onto Sandra Bullock's Christmas wishlist. [BBC]

Image Credit: Astronaut and space station in space from Shutterstock.com