NASA has allocated $73,7 million on a 3D printer that will print different mechanisms on the ISS. Archinaut, mission which for several years is being developed by Made In Space, could be launched in 2022.
The problem is this: if you want the spacecraft had solar panels with a length of 20 meters, you need to bring 20 yards of material for attaching these arrays – they will not be able to withstand the loads during takeoff of the vehicle. But where you hide 20 meters of solar panels when you only have a few cubic feet of space for their installation? It is reported by the Informant Tech, Recalling TC.
The decision Archinaut very simple and ingenious. Why not just take the material component for this long in space and print it on the spot?
Yes, there are a lot of things that are hard to deliver to orbit, but a 3D printer would solve this problem. For example, the retention mechanism that supply from Earth is not so easy, so the printer would solve this issue for few days without any extra costs.
At Made in Space already has contracts with NASA, and he demonstrated 3D printing of parts on Board the International space station. He has also shown he can print things in an artificial vacuum, is more or less equivalent to the space environment.
Demonstration mission, Archinaut One, was to begin aboard a booster Rocket Lab Electron in 2022, and after reaching a stable orbit to start output relay, which will stretch for 10 meters. They will be attached to flexible solar panels that unfold with the same speed, attached to the rigid structures. When they finish, the robotic arm will lock them in place.
After completion of this pair of solar will theoretically generate approximately five times more energy than typically consumes space ship of this size. Because the spacecraft almost without exception are systems with energy depletion, could have more than one VT for use or storage in orbit, various instruments and food.