Archinaut Orbiting Robotic Factory
Made In Space, Inc. is the company behind the 3D printers on board the International Space Station. Astronauts have used the Additive Manufacturing Facility, on the ISS to churn out everything from finger splints to tools.
Now, they have bigger plans.
(Additive Manufacturing Facility gets large)
Now, the company is revealing a video rendering of its larger Archinaut system, a factory in the sky operated by autonomous robots. The Archinaut can produce and assemble large equipment, such as satellites or even entire spacecraft, while in orbit.
According to Made In Space CEO and president Andrew Rush, “It’s our ambition to develop the manufacturing technologies that will usher in the era of true commercial space utilization.” Literally, he is hoping to enable colonization of other planets, with millions of people living and working in beautiful, microgravity environments.
The company believes, he said, “Manufacturing things in space lets us unlock possibilities you can’t when you have to design things to survive launch.” During launch, tremendous forces push down on any spacecraft and the people within, obviously. Rush added, “Any time you can pack more efficiently, and save mass, it helps make new missions possible or current missions more cost-effective.”
I think it's time for orbiting factories, like the ones in Arthur C. Clarke's still excellent 1978 novel The Fountains of Paradise:
"...What is it?"
"The result of two hundred years of solid-state physics. For whatever good that does, it is a continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal - though it's not actually pure carbon. There are several trace elements in carefully controlled amounts. It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories, where there's no gravity to interfere with the growth process."
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