Made In Space, Inc.’s Archinaut One spacecraft has the go-ahead from NASA to manufacture and assemble structures in low-Earth orbit. The demonstration, funded by a $73.7 million public-private NASA partnership, could be a key enabler in the United State’s Moon to Mars exploration ambitions.
Made In Space plans to launch the its Archinaut One spacecraft on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from New Zealand no earlier than 2022, and once in orbit, Archinaut One will use additive manufacturing techniques – or 3D printing – to create two 32-foot beams extending out from each side of the spacecraft. As manufacturing progresses, each beam will unfurl two solar arrays that generate up to five times more power than traditional solar panels on spacecraft of similar size.
The contract is the start of the second phase of a partnership established through NASA's Tipping Point solicitation. The partnership combines NASA resources with an industry contribution of at least 25 percent of the program costs, shepherding the development of critical space technologies while also saving the agency taxpayer money.
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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.
Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at email@example.com.