Aerospace

Taking 3D printing onto the first privately owned space station

Axiom Space, developers of the ‘world’s first private commercial space station‘, have entered into an agreement with out of this world 3D printers, Made In Space. The agreement covers manufacturing in low earth orbit.

Made In Space created the world’s first (or perhaps space’s first) gravity defying 3D printer. While Axiom Space “intends to build ISS’s international, privately-owned successor.” This collaboration will bring Made In Space’s additive manufacturing expertise and assist with the creation of the new space station. The partnership will also help develop Made In Space’s plans for manufacturing optical fibres in space.

Recently, additive manufacturing has provided another private space company, Rocket Crafters, with the capability to create 3D printed rocket fuel for their planned low-orbit missions.

Graphic showing Axiom Space's time-scale plans. Image via Axiom Space.
Graphic showing Axiom Space’s time-scale plans. Image via Axiom Space.

The full details of Axiom’s plans with Made In Space’s 3D printing capabilities is unclear. However, this agreement is interesting as it allows Made in Space to further utilize the additive technology they have harnessed. The first task for Made In Space will involve the use of optical fibers created in space, which Axiom are interested in incorporating in their Axiom Module. These optical fibers are difficult to manufacture on earth, in the presence of gravity and it seems this partnership will facilitate the process for mutual benefit. The companies are reportedly working together on the logistics of space manufacturing and the delivery of cables back to Earth.

Axiom Module

Axiom are vocal about their plans to create the first private commercial space station. They will send a module to the ISS which can be used as a starting point for creating their own private space station. Through this partnership, Axiom will be able to manufacture objects in space rather than having them shipped from Earth. The precise nature of these objects is unknown and Axiom Space had not responded to a request for further information at the time of writing. 3D Printing Industry will bring you more information as we have it.

The Axiom Module will provide three new ports to the ISS. Image via Axiom.
The Axiom Module will provide three new ports to the ISS. Image via Axiom Space.

President and CEO of Axiom Space Michael Suffredini knows all about Space Stations as former ISS Program Manager. He spoke regarding the agreement and explained the unique opportunities that appealed to their company,

 This partnership marks an important next step in humanity’s reach into space. In-space manufacturing provides a unique class of products beneficial to the communications, materials and biomedical industries on Earth. Made In Space is an exemplary company to collaborate with to meet the demand for in-space manufacturing, and we are thrilled to build a partnership with the individuals who have proven their abilities in zero-g flights and on ISS.

While Andrew Rush, CEO of Made In Space, described how the agreement will enable them to grow as a company, allowing them to “continue to evolve and develop new products“. Referring to Axiom as being “the ideal partner for manufacturing new technologies in space and leveraging our new capabilities.” 

Nominate now for the 1st Annual 3D Printing Industry Awards. Nominations end soon. 

Featured image shows the Axiom module connected to the International Space Station (ISS). Image via Axiom Space. 

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