A 3D printer has passed its final set of NASA checks, clearing the way for the device to launch toward the International Space Station in August.
A series of trials at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama has verified that the 3D printer – developed by California-based startup Made in Space in cooperation with NASA, as part of a project known as 3D Print – meets all the requirements for use aboard the orbiting lab, officials announced today.
“NASA was able to provide key guidance on how to best comply with strenuous space certification, safety and operational requirements, and Made In Space excelled at incorporating that insight into the design,” Niki Werkheiser, the NASA 3D Print project manager, said in a statement.
The printer is now cleared for takeoff aboard the next cargo mission the private company SpaceX will fly to the space station for NASA using its robotic Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket.
The testers at Marshall looked at a number of factors, from the 3D printer’s ability to withstand the rigors of launch to its compatibility with space station interfaces, NASA officials said.
“The ability to manufacture on demand in space is going to be a paradigm shift for the way development, research and exploration happen in space,” said Michael Snyder, lead engineer and director of R&D for Made In Space.
When the experiment is over, Made in Space plans to install a permanent 3D printer aboard the International Space Station.