NASA’s latest replenishment mission for the International Space Station (ISS) sped towards its destination with over 8,000 pounds of scientific cargo.
A valuable piece of freight? A 3D printing system called Redwire Regolith Print (RRP). It was built to make things out of lunar soil – and to work in continuous microgravity.
Why it matters: NASA is interested in using “regolith” – also known as loose rock and soil layers on the moon and other planets – to 3D print building materials for homes, landing sites and other structures in space. The space agency is investigating this approach because, if successful, it would reduce the structural materials that future launches to the Moon and Mars will have to transport.
- The system will work in conjunction with the 3D printer already on board the ISS: the Made In Space Manufacturing Device (ManD). A wrench was one of ManD’s first creations.
Back to earth: There are also realistic applications for this technology in the immediate vicinity. Creating resilient structures using on-site materials could mean better infrastructure in remote areas – and faster emergency engineering for responding to natural disasters, according to NASA. – HF