Space Travel

Now You Can Have Your Product Printed in Space

Now You Can Have Your Product Printed in Space

Mike Chen (left) and Jason Dunn (right) "floating" during a parabolic flight in which the zero-G 3D printer was validated.

Image credit: Made In Space

A cargo ship named Cygnus will launch a mission tonight at 11:05 p.m. ET to resupply the International Space Station with 7,500 pounds worth of supplies to aid the crew on board in their research.

Among the tools being sent up is a 3-D printer created by startup Made in Space. The Additive Manufacturing Facility, or AMF, was custom made to work in microgravity and built to last for as long at the ISS does.

The printer will allow the astronauts to replace parts and tools that break during the course of the expedition without having to rely on costly deliveries from NASA. The company will be able to remotely operate the AMF from their offices at NASA Ames Research Park in California.

Related: NASA Turns to Small Businesses for Advances in Space Travel

And while the printer will permanently live on the space station, customers back on Earth can actually pay to use it too. For a fee that ranges from about $6,000 to $30,000 per print, businesses can test out their products in the ISS' microgravity environment, according to Wired.

Some other experiments the astronauts will be carrying out thanks to the Cygnus delivery will include examining the soil that shows up on the moon and "other airless worlds" such as asteroids, figuring what the meteors that enter Earth's atmosphere are made of and trying out an adhesive device that was inspired by gecko feet.
Edition: December 2016

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