“NASA is in the beginning stages of bringing 3D printing to several aspects of space travel. In May, the agency announced $125,000 in funding to research printing food in space. NASA and the European Space Agency have also raised the idea for a 3D printed moon base. But the science hasn’t arrived yet.
3D printing will have an immediate impact on the ISS. A NASA study found that 30 percent of the parts that have broken in the past likely could have been fixed by Made in Space’s printer. It can make nuts, bolts, springs and even piping for the ISS toilet. It can make a puzzle for a bored astronaut.
“There’s literally billions of dollars of spare parts that have to be on the station because they never know what they’ll need,” Dunn said. “There’s times when a tool is needed and the tool didn’t exist.”
“We’re not just focusing on printing on the space station,” Kemmer said. “We’re going to get to one day where we’re printing space stations. We’re going to manufacture large spacecraft on demand.”