3D Printers… In Space!

January 23, 2013 | Julia Dawidowicz

3D printers are probably among the space-age-iest advancements of the tech world lately, banging out everything from 3D-printed burritos and presidential candidate dildos to guns and potential cancer cures. But until now, the 3D printer has yet to make its debut in actual outer space. That is about to change.

Tech start-up Deep Space Industries (DSI) announced some pretty out-there plans yesterday, involving the mining, and eventual colonization, of deep space asteroids. The idea is to launch this MEGA-3D-printer — the MicroGravity Foundry — into space, where it can help itself to a smorgasbord of resource-rich asteroids.

From there, DSI can harvest precious metals and other materials needed to build a sort of cosmic robot sweatshop, if you will, that will manufacture useful supplies for various in-space missions. The MicroGravity Foundry will be programmed to grind up asteroids and separate out the useful stuff, which can be used to print parts needed to build spacecraft “gas stations”, communication satellites, and even in-space devices that can beam power back to Earth. By providing easy access to these resources from space, cosmic exploration will be cheaper and more efficient than ever before.

“We will only be visitors in space until we learn how to live off the land there,” DSI Chairman Rick Tumlinson stated. “This is the Deep Space mission — to find, harvest and process the resources of space to help save our civilization and support the expansion of humanity beyond the Earth…”

Crazy stuff. With a projected launch date of 2015, it looks like space tourism/colonization may be closer than many of us realize. Three cheers for that three-boobed Martian chick from Total Recall?