NASA Funds Mother of All 3D Printers to Build Equipment in Space

Way cooler than mass-producing plastic iPhone cases.



In news that may not make sense to people who are not rocket scientists, NASA has recently awarded Tethers Unlimited $500,000 to develop a robotic 3D printer that would build huge structures while in orbit, Gigaom reports.

The SpiderFab printer and assembly system would be able to throw together structures more than half a mile wide, Gigaom says.  NASA would densely pack materials into existing spacecraft so that the SpiderFab could assemble it into “extremely large structures that are optimized for the space environment,” Tethers Unlimited CEO Rob Hoyt is quoted as saying.

This will enable NASA to create equipment far larger than what they can build on earth, he adds, “providing higher power, higher bandwidth, higher resolution, and higher sensitivity for a wide range of space missions.”

This 3D printer to end all 3D printers will be able to create antennae and telescopes huge enough to search for planets way farther away than what we can currently detect. As an added bonus, we’ll be able to start using the pickup line, “Are you a space robot? Because I heard your antenna is out of this world.”