How NASA 'Emailed' A Wrench Into Space
NASAWhat happens when you're in outer space and you suddenly need something you don't have? It's not like UPS makes regular trips to the International Space Station.Normally, astronauts could have to wait up to several months for a specific tool to be delivered up to the ISS. But thanks to 3D printing, astronauts no longer need to wait.
Here's the process: Made In Space designs the 3D-printed hardware in CAD software, which is then converted into a file-format the 3D printer can read. The company then sends the file to NASA, which is then transmitted to the ISS. The Space Station's 3D printer can receive the code and begin manufacturing immediately.All 21 objects that have been 3D printed in space will be brought back to Earth for further testing. "We will use them to characterize the effects of long-term microgravity on our 3D-printing process, so that we can model and predict the performance of objects that we manufacture in space in the future," Chen says.
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