Currently celebrating its seventy five year anniversary the NASA Ames Research Centre ― home to a variety of 3D printing related projects and many more missions besides ― is to host an open house for its workforce on the 18th of next month to provide them with the chance to see the many technological wonders that have been produced there.
The Center is to display a variety of components that have been created at the Ames’ SpaceShop that have been produced with 3D printing and other digital manufacturing methods to rapidly produce various model shuttle parts. The futuristic sounding outcome that is edging ever closer to reality will be a focus too: fixing shuttles out in space itself.
The Space Shop ‘provides the Ames community access to a full range of tools, machine shop and electronic equipment. Space Shop staff will be on hand to provide personal consulting and prototyping assistance with any of your projects and has access to main machine shop expertise and capability if required.’ Training for the specialized equipment in the lab is on the Space Shop web site here. There are a variety of advanced manufacturing tools as part of the shop as below:
Chuck Duff, operations manager at the Research Center said: “You can get a really unique aspect into NASA by coming to Ames. It’s really quite an amazing place for the wide variety: from aeronautics to space technology. If you are en route to Mars, for example, and a part breaks. We could, on the ground, send the 3D printing results up to the vehicle in flight.”
Founded in 1939 the Ames Research Center was focused on wind tunnels for aerodynamics research, which includes a 80-by-120-foot wind tunnel, the largest in the world. The center is involved in several missions, such as the International Space Station, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) orbiter, and the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) research aircraft. Other projects include the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument on the famed Mars Curiosity Rover, which tests water and life-supporting organic compounds on the Martian surface. NASA Ames also leads the mission operations for the Kepler mission, which searches for planets with habitable environments.
For the staff, the open house is a rare opportunity, the first in some seventeen years. Free tickets were quickly all taken, but the organizers at NASA are considering making more tickets available for this already popular event. Each Thursday until the 18th of October will see limited numbers of backstage passes for specialized labs released that also allow general admission entry 9am – 3pm, with last admission for backstage events at 2:30pm. Registration for notifications of when more tickets are released can be found here.