NASA Selects 3 Companies to Develop Prototype Space FabLab

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA is taking the next step in the development of a space-based, on-demand fabrication capability by partnering with three U.S. companies, under NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program, to create prototypes.

The selected companies are: Interlog Corporation of Anaheim, California; Techshot, Inc. of Greeneville, Indiana; and Tethers Unlimited, Inc. of Bothell, Washington. Combined funding for the awards is approximately $10.2 million. These companies will have 18 months to deliver the prototype, after which NASA will select partners to further mature the technologies.

Earlier this year, NASA sought proposals for ground-based prototypes of a multi-material fabrication lab, or FabLab, under Appendix B of the NextSTEP-2 Broad Agency Announcement. With these new partnerships, the agency is prepared to take the effort to the next level.

“NASA is challenging industry partners to expand possibilities for making, repairing and recycling items in space,” said Niki Werkheiser, lead for in-space manufacturing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “The FabLab prototypes will provide valuable insights and help lay the foundation for meaningful on-demand manufacturing capabilities needed for sustainable human spaceflight missions.”

FabLab is part of a broad agency strategy and series of investments managed by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division and Space Technology Mission Directorate to advance key technology capability areas.

  • Tom Billings

    So, Interlog is new enough that I know little about them except what comes from their website:

    Techshot is new enough that there is nothing about this on their own website, so far devoted to space/bioscience work.

    Tethers Unlimited is far better known. Especially their SpiderFab proposals already moving forward. This attempt to move to a ground-based multi-material prototype for what is eventually to be a space-based manufacturing capability sounds like a commitment to a smaller set of structural components than SpiderFab would deal with. At the same time, it expands the list of materials to metals.

    One thing that was *not* included was participation by Made-in-Space, which just claimed some progress on metal fabbing in freefall.