A profile of Made-In-Space and 3D printing off earth + Additive Rocket Corp. does 3D printed propulsion systems

NewSpace Watch
April 23, 2018

An extensive article about Made In Space and the company’s 3D printer for microgravity, Archinaut system for constructing large space structures, and making ZBLAN light fibers on the ISS: ‘It’s about expanding Earth’: could we build cities in space? | The Guardian

During the early weeks of his 167-day stint aboard the International Space Station in 2014, astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore noticed that a torque wrench was missing. “It’s not uncommon for things to disappear in space,” he tells me over the phone from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “You just don’t have gravity keeping stuff in place.” Wilmore mentioned the missing tool to Nasa’s mission control as he was tending to a 3D printer, a microwave-sized box that extrudes heated plastic to build up objects layer by layer, which was being tested on the space station.

About a week later, Wilmore opened the door to the 3D printer to find a perfect replica of his missing wrench. He was thrilled, a moment captured in a photo that was shared with the world’s media at the time. Until that point, the machine had produced only very simple objects. “This was a printed, all-inclusive wrench, with a ratchet mechanism, that worked,” Wilmore says.

Unbeknown to the astronaut, the team that designed and operated the 3D printer – a California-based company called Made In Space – had been listening in on his conversation with Nasa (a privilege for companies working with the space agency) and worked round the clock to design a version of the tool that met Nasa’s rigorous safety requirements.


Additive Rocket Corporation, based in La Jolla, California, uses 3D printing systems for making spacecraft thrusters and rocket engines:

Space exploration hinges on the innovation of propulsion technology. Building on this fundamental thought, ARC capitalizes on the limitless potential of metal 3D printing technologies to deliver products with a high standard of safety and reliability.

The team at ARC is committed to providing value through the engineering design, efficient manufacturing, and robust testing of liquid propellant thrusters and rocket engines for space industry vehicles and small-satellite launchers.

3D Printing the Future of Space Exploration from ARC on Vimeo.

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