Planetary Resources 3D Prints Object From Meteorite

Credit: Planetary Resources
Credit: Planetary Resources

REDMOND, Wa. (Planetary Resources PR) — The future of space colonization and industrialization can now be visualized.

Planetary Resources, in collaboration with our partner 3D Systems, have developed the first ever direct metal print from asteroid metals. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) today in Las Vegas, NV., we unveiled the geometric object on the Engadget stage.

Credit: Planetary Resources
Credit: Planetary Resources

This spacecraft prototype was 3D printed from actual an asteroid that was, pulverized, powdered and processed on the new 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) ProX DMP 320 metals 3D printer. It is the first part ever 3D Printed with material from outer space and is reminiscent of a design that could originate from a 3D printer in the zero-gravity environment of space.

The asteroid (or meteorite) used for the print materials was sourced from the Campo Del Cielo impact near Argentina, and is composed of iron, nickel and cobalt – similar materials to refinery grade steel.

  • mzungu

    Focus, and Focus… Weren’t U were supposed to be build some telescope to find them rocks first. One step at a time….and this how u spend investor money?

    Sorry, but we got like plenty of Iron on earth, and the prices are dropping faster than a meteor, and hate to break it to ya, not much of it are used in spacecraft constructions.

  • Douglas Messier

    It’s strange. Their first Arkyd test spacecraft was deployed into orbit on July 16 on a 90-day mission to test out technology. That means the mission would have been over by the middle of October.

    Strangely, I can’t find anything about the mission on the Planetary Resources after the press release announcing its launch. A company as PR savvy as Planetary Resources would certainly have publicized the hell out of the mission….

    Ohhh. Oh-kay. I think I get it…

    Perhaps they were too busy getting Congress to legalize asteroid mining. A fine achievement. Diamandis & co. managed the same thing in 2004 with the commercial space legislation. Congress just extended the learning period for what, the third time, since nobody’s flown to space commercially since then.

    It’s said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. I don’t like how this one’s sounding.

  • The only reason iron is not a large component of spacecraft construction is the large gravity well of Earth from which it must eventually escape. Not so in space. Iron is a wonderful metal when alloyed with other metals, and where the application does not have to be moved any considerable distance, if at all.

  • JamesG

    It depends on who (okay, “what”) they are intending to mine. Asteroids or investors?

  • Flatley

    I believe in PR but the difficult part here isn’t powdering iron asteroid bits and feeding a machine which can already handle nickel superalloys. It’s developing a laser sintering process that works in zero gravity.

  • ThomasLMatula

    I see the Asteroid Act as being much more important since it created a secure legal
    framework to enable private entities to make use of space resources for
    profit, critical to the economic development of space. The last minute extension to cover mining on all Celestial Bodies basically opens the Solar System up for development and settlement. By contrast the Commercial Space Act of 2004 which only amended the existing space regulation.

    I also see the value of the “learning period” as being questionable since the FAA AST didn’t have a clue on how to write the regulations or grant licenses anyway for reusable suborbital systems given the lack of vehicles operating. So it wasn’t like a bunch of new regulations would have suddenly emerged to crush the industry without it. One could also argue that the “hands off” attitude by the FAA AST it created contributed to the SpaceShipTwo accident since accountability to the government for flight safety was limited. Perhaps without the “learning period” the FAA AST would have been more involved and as an outside party identified the risks the NTSB reported on before the accident.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Doesn’t matter. The basic right was established and as with mining in the Old West, some firms will be serious and focused while others will be just hype, but overall the resources were developed for the benefit of the nation.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, vehicle mass is not the problem in space it is at the bottom of a gravity well. Even if you wish to move it you have low acceleration options that are not available at the bottom of gravity well.

  • mzungu

    Of course u need to move it… unless u want your Iron throne on some dark astroid field, where the nearest rock is another 600,000 miles.

    Should also look into the amount of energy need to melt the ores vs said aluminum. Hint: AL have a lower temp.

  • ThomasLMatula

    I don’t hear the investors complaining 🙂 And I expect the amount spent was within the rounding error for most space ventures. Good cheap PR that reminds folks of the goal.

  • JS_faster

    It matters if you have a wad of money that you want to invest in space and don’t want to see it spent mostly on “salaries” or would even like a return on that investment (LOL).
    It matters if you would like to see more than unmanned scientific probes sent beyond LEO in our lifetime.

    It matters if scams and failed projects gives all of space science and industry a black eye.

  • JS_faster

    Energy is cheap in space.
    You don’t have to machine if you can print.

    Mass still matters, but you can push slow and still get there.

  • mzungu

    Hahha….If there is so much so much Free Energy, i don’t think u still find them ice and water on them asteroid that far out…. or that most large spacecraft needs a RTG.

  • Solar energy increases linearly with area. Can you explain why you want to move your entire habitat to another rock?

    Hint: build another habitat. Then go there. If you must.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Which is why you have to do your due diligence on the firm and the technology of the industry. The problem in terms of space is that advocates are so desperate to see it move forward they are ready to happily jump on every band wagon that comes along. The Ansari X-Prize is a good example.

    As for Planetary Resources, it is interesting if you go to their home page, you will see their near term focus is on CERES, an Earth Intelligence system.

    But then folks should have expected that when they named their first satellites, and even the original firm, after Arkyd Industries in Star Wars and brought Google on board. Arkyd industries specialized in building spy droids that roamed the Star Wars galaxy, 🙂

    But it also illustrates the one big problem with asteroid mining, the lack of markets on Earth. You need to identify and develop those markets first. Beavers were of little economic value until a market developed for hats made from Beaver fur. They the fur trapping industry boomed. You need to find the equivalent for asteroid mining for the industry to emerge. Planetary Resources turning its telescopes towards Earth is basically showing that they haven’t identify any solid markets for asteroid resources.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Spacecraft need RTG because of the mass and volume restrictions required to launch out of the Earth’s deep gravity well. In space you may build extremely large solar arrays for your needs. If they are light enough and large enough they will even be able to act as solar sails to supplement the ion or plasma drives they will power. Developing the ability to print solar panels from NEO material will be high on the priority list of space miners as it will supply their energy needs.

  • mzungu

    All power by mystical unicorn rainbow, that shine brighter against the inverse square law.