Orbital Manufacturer 'Made in Space' Gets $73 Million NASA Contract

Science fiction have been thinking about whether or not it would be possible to do messy manufacturing in space, possibly in orbit. Arthur C. Clarke suggested orbiting factories in his admirable 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."

Fans of William Gibson may recall that he mentioned automated space factories in his 1988 novel Mona Lisa Overdrive.

NASA recently awarded a $73.7 million dollar contract to Made in Space after a successful effort to manufacture optical fiber in orbit.

Made in Space is one of the most intriguing companies in aerospace because it's not so much focused on getting into space. Rather, the company is focused on doing interesting, meaningful, and potentially profitable things once there. Its long-term goal is to build factories in space using additive manufacturing.

A recent NASA contract, worth $73.7 million, will allow Made in Space to significantly accelerate those efforts. "For us, this is one of those watershed moments that take this technology and propel it into the next stage," said Andrew Rush, president and chief executive officer... Made in Space started the year with 40 employees and will end it with nearly 100.

The NASA contract will fund the company to build and fly a spacecraft it calls Archinaut One, with the aim of constructing two 10-meter solar arrays in orbit. These two arrays will power an ESPA-class satellite. (These are fairly small satellites, about 200kg, that are typically carried as secondary payloads by large rockets such as the Falcon 9 booster built by SpaceX.)

The basic idea is that, if Archinaut One can manufacture its own solar arrays in space—rather than having to fold them in a cumbersome way inside a payload fairing—they can be much larger than those on a typical ESPA-class satellite. Instead of a few hundred watts of power, therefore, a small satellite might be able to have as much as five to eight times that amount to work with.

The first efforts to implement (or at least experiment) with creating materials in orbit occurred in the early 1970's, during the Skylab mission (which was launched in 1973).

Via ArsTechnica and Made in Space.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/3/2019)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Manufacturing ")

Scaly-Foot Snail Works With Iron
'Micro-Scale suit tiles fabricated by genetically engineered metal affinity bacteria...'

Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels
It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes.

3D Printed 'Blisk' Manufactured In Orbit
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

3D Printing With Sunlight And Sand
'We made a crude, small cell and were delighted...' - John W. Campbell, 1950.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Flatcat Robot Recalls Both Heinlein And Simak
Sorry, you'll need to read the article.

Nuclear Batteries May Pack Inner Punch
'... the most super-valuable substance in the solar system.'

Elon Musk STILL Wants To Make Heinlein's 1940's Speedster
'As she neared the barrier the car surged and lifted...'

Mercury Capsule Ablative Shielding
'...a synthetic which air-friction would erode away.'

Heinlein And Russian Quail In Orbit
'No earth-hatched bird can learn to fly in that fashion...'

Listen Up, Coppertop - Wearable Device Turns You Into A Battery
'It's our way or the highway.'

Solar Powered Robot Cleans Up Solar Panels For Free
'... with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length of Rama's six artificial suns.'

Spot Arm From Boston Dynamics Picks Up Like Heinlein's Hired Girl Robot
'Anything larger than a BB shot it picked up and placed in a tray on its upper surface...'

Electric Vehicle Prices Will Drop To $2,890
'the human seats took up two-thirds of the room in each'

TIGER Ultimate Mobility Vehicle From Hyundai
'He admired the fast-plodding, articulated legs...'

Drones Communicate With Each Other Using Quantum Encryption
'the curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits...'

Space Construction Tools For Large Structures By OAC
'Mass-produced in the orbiting factories...'

SpinCare Electrospins And Shoots Wound Dressing
'Over her lacerated right shoulder he sprayed art-derm...'

Tesla Model S And X Moves Toward KITT Knight Rider Styling
Now, that was a Pontiac Trans Am with some real style.

Sophia Robots By The Thousands
'There is a built-in microphone that hears everything you say, and an electric brain that selects a suitable answer.'

Scaly-Foot Snail Works With Iron
'Micro-Scale suit tiles fabricated by genetically engineered metal affinity bacteria...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.