Redwire Developing Key Technologies to Build Sustainable Lunar Infrastructure

Redwire’s Additive Manufacturing Device, which will be used to run the regolith simulant prints for the Redwire Regolith Print mission. (Credit: Redwire)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NASA PR) — The farther humans go into deep space, the more important it will be to generate products with local materials. Reducing Earth delivery requirements reduces overall mission cost and launch weight.  It also allows for the construction of infrastructure using space-based resources, a practice called in-situ resource utilization (ISRU). NASA is making long term investments to advance ISRU technology across multiple areas, including regolith-based in-space manufacturing and construction.

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Cygnus Resupply Ship Installed on Space Station’s Unity Module for Cargo Transfers

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft launches from Pad-0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 16th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA will deliver nearly 8,200 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the International Space Station and its crew. (Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 9:42 a.m. EDT. Cygnus will remain at the space station for about three months until the spacecraft departs in November.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings more than 8,200 pounds of research and supplies to space station. Highlights of cargo aboard Cygnus include:

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Orbex Commissions Largest Industrial 3D Printer in Europe for Rapid Rocket Building

FORRES, UK (Orbex PR) — Orbex has commissioned AMCM to build the largest industrial 3D printer in Europe, allowing the innovative UK-based space launch company to rapidly print complex rocket engines in-house. The custom-made, large volume 3D printer will allow Orbex to print more than 35 large-scale rocket engine and main stage turbopump systems annually, as the company scales up its production capabilities for launches.

The multi-million pound deal was signed with AMCM, following a series of successful trials printing various large-scale rocket components over a number of months. AMCM will deliver a complete printing suite with post-processing machinery and ‘Machine Vision’ systems, providing automatic imaging-based inspection of printed components. To accommodate the new machinery, Orbex is expanding its factory floor space by an additional 1,000 m².

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Kennedy to Partner with Previous NASA Challenge Winner for Lunar Research

Team AI SpaceFactory’s printer autonomously inserts a window into their 3D-printed subscale habitat structure at NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, held at the Caterpillar Edwards Demonstration & Learning Center in Edwards, Illinois, May 1-4, 2019. (Credits: NASA/Emmett Given)

By Leejay Lockhart
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Building structures on other planets is challenging for many reasons, including that it is difficult to send supplies from Earth. Typical construction materials such as concrete and steel are too heavy and bulky to launch on a rocket to the Moon and especially Mars. A solution to that problem is using local materials already at the destination.

AI SpaceFactory – an architectural and construction technology company and winner of NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge – will collaborate with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to mature new planetary construction technologies. NASA announced the partnership, and 19 others across the agency, under the 2020  Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO).

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JAXA Selects 15 Innovative Micro Satellite Demonstration Projects

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has established a basic mission that uses micro satellites as part of the “environmental maintenance for stable supply of core parts of space systems” shown in the Basic Space Plan.

We are advancing the “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program” with the aim of conducting on-orbit verification of parts and new elemental technology in a timely and inexpensive manner.

We would like to inform you that we are soliciting demonstration themes for “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Unit 3” and selected the demonstration themes (15 in total) from the 23 themes that we applied for, as shown below.

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Tests Start on 3D-Printed Thrust Chamber

additively-manufactured thrust chamber. (Credit; ArianeGroup GmbH)

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN, Germany (ESA PR) — Based on hot-fire tests of an Expander-cycle Integrated Demonstrator (ETID) that proved the technology and methods last year, ESA, ArianeGroup and DLR German Aerospace Center have built and hot-fire tested a fully additively-manufactured thrust chamber.

This first test lasted 30 seconds and was carried out on 26 May 2020 at the DLR German Aerospace Center’s Lampoldshausen testing facility. Additional tests are planned next week. The data from this test campaign will be collected and analysed.

This fully 3D-printed thrust chamber is built in just three parts and could power the upper stages of future rockets.

Additive layer manufacturing also known as 3D-printing, allows more complex designs for higher performance, vastly reduces the number of parts in this case from hundreds to three, and speeds up production time. This reduces costs and significantly improves the competitiveness of liquid propulsion engines for European launch vehicles.

This fullscale chamber has a 3D-printed copper liner with integrated cooling channels and a high-strength jacket built on via cold-gas spraying. Its manifold and single-piece injector head are also 3D-printed. 

The production and test of these parts has been performed within ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme.

3D Printing Helps Essential Workers Face COVID-19

3D printed parts on a 3D printer at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany. (Credit: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

COLOGNE, Germany (ESA PR) — Knowledge and 3D printers at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany are being put to work in the fight against COVID-19 as part of a joint initiative to keep essential workers safe.

Usually used to print special items for astronaut training and test ideas for future spaceflight as part of Spaceship EAC, two open-source 3D printers are proving an ideal tool for producing components for face shields as part of a local MakerVsVirus initiative. Under this initiative, EAC contributes its parts to those supplied by a wider hub of makers. The completed face shields are then delivered to hospitals in need.

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Techshot Prints Knee Cartilage in Space

NASA Astronaut and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences graduate Dr. Andrew Morgan prepares the 3D BioFabrication Facility for meniscus test prints aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

GREENVILLE, Ind. (April 6, 2020) – Commercial space company Techshot Inc., used its space-based 3D bioprinter, called the BioFabrication Facility, or BFF, to successfully manufacture test prints of a partial human meniscus aboard the International Space Station (ISS) last month.

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3D Printing, Biology Research Make the Journey Back to Earth Aboard SpaceX’s Dragon

Christina Koch handles media bags that enable the manufacturing of organ-like tissues using the BioFabrication Facility. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — On March 9, 2020, a Dragon cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station carrying dozens of scientific experiments as a part of SpaceX’s 20th cargo resupply mission. Now, Dragon heads home. On April 7, it is scheduled to undock from station, bringing samples, hardware and data from completed investigations back to Earth on its return trip.

Here are details on some of the investigations returning to the ground for further analysis and reporting of results.

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Astronaut Christina Koch Services a 3-D Biological Printer

Christina Koch handles media bags that enable the manufacturing of organ-like tissues using the BioFabrication Facility. (Credit: NASA)

In this image from December 2019, astronaut Christina Koch handles media bags that enable the manufacturing of organ-like tissues using the BioFabrication Facility (BFF), a 3-D biological printer on the International Space Station. The BFF could become a part of a larger system capable of manufacturing whole, fully functioning human organs from existing patient cells in microgravity.

Learn more about science experiments aboard the station and how they helps improve life on Earth.

Video: ESA’s First 3D Printer for Space

Video Caption: Presenting Europe’s first 3D printer designed for use in weightlessness, printing aerospace-quality plastics. ESA’s Manufacturing of Experimental Layer Technology (MELT) project printer has to be able to operate from any orientation – up, down or sideways – in order to serve in microgravity conditions aboard the International Space Station. Based on the ‘fuse filament fabrication’ process, it has been designed to fit within a standard ISS payload rack, and to meet the Station’s rigorous safety standards.

The MELT printer can print a wide variety of thermoplastics from ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), as used in Lego, up to high-melting point engineering thermoplastics such PEEK (Polyether ether ketone), which is robust enough to substitute for metal materials in some cases.

The printer was produced for ESA by a consortium led by Sonaca Space GmbH together with BeeVeryCreative, Active Space Technologies SA and OHB-System AG. The MELT project was supported through ESA’s Technology Development Element programme, which identifies promising technologies for space, then demonstrates their workability.

Success: 3D Bioprinter in Space Prints With Human Heart Cells

The 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) is the first 3D printer capable of manufacturing human tissue (including, someday, organs) in the microgravity condition of space. (Credit: Techshot)

GREENVILLE, Ind., January 7, 2020 (Techshot PR) — A 3D bioprinter privately owned by an American company has successfully printed with a large volume of human heart cells aboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Owned by Techshot Inc., a commercial operator of microgravity research and manufacturing equipment, the 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) was developed in partnership with nScrypt, a manufacturer of industrial 3D bioprinters and electronics printers. The tissue-like constructs return to Earth this week inside a SpaceX capsule.

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Solving the Challenges of Long Duration Space Flight with 3D Printing

NASA Astronaut Barry (Butch) Wilmore holds a ratchet wrench created in 2014 with the 3D printer aboard the International Space Station using a design file transmitted from the ground. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The International Space Station has continuously been home to astronauts for more than nineteen years. Astronauts conduct scientific research using dozens of special facilities aboard the space station, which also provides them with a place to eat, sleep, relax and exercise. To make all of this possible requires sending more than 7,000 pounds of spare parts to the station annually. Another 29,000 pounds of spaceflight hardware spares are stored aboard the station and another 39,000 on the ground, ready to fly if needed.

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Research Launching to the Space Station Ranges from Radiation Protection to Rover Control

Cygnus departs the International Space Station. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — Supplies and scientific experiments ride to the International Space Station on a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft (NG-12) scheduled for launch on Nov. 2. The investigations making the trip range from research into human control of robotics in space to reprocessing fibers for 3D printing. Cygnus lifts off on the Antares rocket from pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island in Virginia.

Resupply missions from U.S. companies ensure NASA’s capability to deliver critical science research to the space station and significantly increase its ability to conduct new investigations in the only laboratory in space. This is the first mission under Northrop’s Commercial Resupply Services-2 contract with NASA.

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Made in Space to Launch Plastics Recycler to ISS

Braskem Recycler (Credit: Made in Space)

Made in Space announced on Monday that it will send a system to the International Space Station (ISS) next month that will recycle plastic waste.

The Braskem Recycler will produce plastic feed stock that will be used in Made in Space’s additive manufacturing facility (AMF) aboard ISS, the company said.

“The Recycler will complete the plastic sustainability lifecycle on-orbit by providing astronauts the ability to convert plastic packaging and trash as well as objects previously fabricated by the 3D printer into feedstock to be reused by the printer,” the company said on its website. “It will facilitate the reusability of materials to solve new problems as they arise whether on the International Space Station or in future manned space exploration missions.”

The Braskem Recycle is scheduled for launch aboard a Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship on Nov. 2. The NG-12 mission will fly on an Antares booster from Wallops Island, Va.

Made in Space developed the recycler through a partnership with Braskem, a Brazil-based company that is America’s largest thermoplastic resin producer.

Braskem’s Green Plastic, a bio-based resin made from sugar cane, has been used in Made in Space’s 3D printer aboard the station for the printing of tools and spare parts.