Science-fiction has yet again turned into scientific fact: The first object to be 3D printed in space became a reality at exactly 4:28 PM on Monday, and its implications are pretty incredible. Using a 9.5 inch wide, specially designed printer, astronauts were able to manufacture a replacement faceplate that protects the wiring inside the print tray.
While that’s not exactly as sexy as a laser gun or a jet pack, it means that with the right resources, astronauts will theoretically be able to print anything they need to in the future. Aaron Kemmer is the chief executive officer of Made In Space, the company responsible for building the device, and he put the historical nature of the event into perspective for NBC News:
“It’s not only the first part printed in space, it’s really the first object truly manufactured off planet Earth. Where there was not an object before, we essentially ‘teleported’ an object by sending the bits and having it made on the printer. It’s a big milestone, not only for NASA and Made In Space, but for humanity as a whole.”
Now that NASA has begun contracting Asteroid Mining for the purposes of deep space travel, the idea of printing resources along the way gets humanity even closer to journeying beyond our solar system. For now, more realistic proposals include printing Moon Base construction materials as well as printing food for astronauts.
Kemmer also says they’re working on a recycling device so they’ll be able to simply print a tool that they need temporarily and then turn the materials into whatever the mission requires next.
3D Printing: The Final Frontier.