The life for astronauts in space is not easy. The long periods of working away from family without the natural indication of day or night can be frustrating. However, astronauts are trained to be emotionally and physically stable. They have to be prepared for any type of mishaps leading to fatal explosions. The unavailability of the right tools hinders astronauts to deal with the malfunction and they end up losing their lives.
A shuttle’s payload cannot be made heavier beyond a certain threshold. Hence all types of tools are not available for astronauts. If the International Space Station (ISS) needs to be fully equipped, it will require multiple round trips and additional costs. The budget cuts further limited the NASA officials.
The only solution left was to manufacture tools and required parts in the space. Good news for NASA! 3D technology has made this possible. NASA has recently cleared the design of a 3D printer that can with-stand a rocket launch and zero-gravity conditions. This was custom built by a California start-up called Made in Space.
The 3D printer will be installed in a section of ISS known as Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG). Initially the printer will be used to print about 21 tools and test parts. The first batch of parts printed will have to be returned back to earth for further testing and avoiding flaws and is expected to arrive in august this year.
This can lead us closer to a less costly interplanetary travel. NASA and its counterparts have already set their eyes on printing 3D food for astronauts.