NASA Emails Tool to International Space Station

NASA Emails Tool to International Space Station
Sun Dec 21, 2014 09:46:50

Astronauts on the international space station (ISS) have used a 3D printer to produce a wrench from digital plans sent from earth via email.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sent the instruction for a ratcheting socket wrench to the ISS, which is currently in orbit, on Wednesday, in response to a request from ISS commander Barry Wilmore.

The founder of “Made In Space,” the company which designed the 3D printer, Mike Chen, said "We had overheard ISS Commander Barry Wilmore mention over the radio that he needed one, so we designed one in CAD and sent it up to him faster than a rocket ever could have."

On November 25, the printer was used to fabricate its first object, a replacement part for the printer itself.

On November 17, Commander Wilmore installed the printer on ISS.

"The socket wrench we just manufactured is the first object we designed on the ground and sent digitally to space, on the fly,” added Chen.

Before 3D printing, if astronauts needed a specific item, they would have to wait for months for it to be sent up on supply flight.

According to NASA, this new capability will aid astronauts in being more self-reliant during future long duration missions in space.