The space industry finds itself in the sweet spot of many advanced technologies, hoping to improve mission success by looking at its problems from all sides. 3D printing has already proved to be a powerful tool for these purposes, with its fast iterative cycles and outside-the-box manufacturing paradigm. What Airbus has been doing for its airplanes, Lockheed Martin is pushing beyond with 3D printed parts that can reach sizes just under 4ft, halving production time, costs and reducing weight. Still, it will be extremely expensive to launch humans to Mars or even the Moon in the near future. For that, we’ll have to rely on robots (with much lower maintenance requirements). By sending autonomous robots to another planet, they can be tasked to 3D print sustainable habitats for us in-situ, by sourcing local materials. Empowered by the digital thread, the designs for these habs can be experimented upon and reiterated, and contests are being created periodically to further improve those that, in a not too distant tomorrow, we could call homes.
Lockheed Martin 3D printed an impressive titanium dome for satellite fuel tanks
Lockheed Martin has just taken 3D printing to new heights, printing an enormous titanium dome meant for satellite fuel tanks. It’s the largest space part the company has 3D printed to date and measures 46inch in diameter — just under 4ft.
“Our largest 3D printed parts to date show we’re committed to a future where we produce satellites twice as fast and at half the cost,” said Rick Ambrose, Lockheed Martin Space executive vice president. “And we’re pushing forward for even better results. For example, we shaved off 87% of the schedule to build the domes, reducing the total delivery timeline from two years to three months.”
Read the full article on Digital Trends.
Here’s What We Know About The Robots That Might Build Our First Homes on the Moon
Rovers may soon traverse the surface of the Moon yet again. This time, though, they’ll have one noble mission: to build shelter the first human colonizers will inhabit. A team of Japanese scientists is working to make this a reality. They started a company called ispace with the intention of launching a private space mission to the Moon. ispace envisions an entire colony, called “Moon Valley”, constructed not by human astronauts, but by robots instead. And they want to get started on it soon: the team is planning its first mission for late 2019, and a second in 2020.
Read the full article on Futurism.
NASA announces winners of competition to design 3D-printed habitat for Mars
NASA has selected the five winning designs in the latest stage of its 3D-printed Habitat competition, which include a community of modular pods made from the Martian surface, and a vertical egg-like container. The On-Site Habitat Competition invited groups to design a sustainable shelter for a crew of four astronauts on a mission to Mars, using construction techniques enabled by 3D printing technology.
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