Vacuum is a space that has nothing in it. But, scientists have as usual, made something out of nothing. They have made a 3D printer that can make constructions in vacuum. This new tech is expected to bring in better spacecraft and telescopes that are space-based. Exploring space will now take a new meaning.
Innovations & more Insights
Using the microgravity of space and 3D printers, an American company called Archinaut, which is space based, has been behind this project. They print 3D parts, in environments of zero-gravity. In 2010, it has been able to print a range of structures along with tools, so that astronauts can use them on demand. For now, two such printers are available with the International Space Station, but they have not been exposed to the silent void of space so far. An artificial vacuum was created by using thermal vacuum chamber to simulate the conditions prevailing in space, by which they were able to make print polymer alloy beams that were 85 cm in length.
What makes the entire prospect very interesting is the fact that the 3D printer is just a fraction of what the future prospects are all about. Revolutionizing the methods of designing, deploying and operating systems through robotic manufacturing and assembling in-space, is the ambition of such space companies. Building even larger telescopes for space and large structures is the vision of NASA. They intend to build telescopes of 12 meters width, to hunt through exoplanet atmospheres for life. They should be able to fit inside the nose cone of vehicles that are launched from earth. Another aim is to test combinations of robotic arms and printers and to fly demonstrative emission in the orbit of earth. These are dreams that may materialize by 2020. Using technology to conquer space is a dream that may turn out to be reality in the near future. Manufacture of things in space is the milestone to be reached.