Ever since he was a young boy, watching the televised lunar landings from his hometown of Cañuelas, Argentina, Pablo de León knew he wanted to contribute to human space exploration. Now, as chair of the Department of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota (UND), he’s doing just that, designing and developing 3D-printed spacesuit models that may support future exploration of Mars. The research is made possible through the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a part of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement and based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Researchers are one step closer to autonomously 3D printing metals in space.
Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, or EBF3, uses an electron beam gun, dual wire feed, and computer controls to manufacture metallic structures. In development for more than two decades, the process still relies on a human to observe and adjust the system.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NASA PR) — The farther humans go into deep space, the more important it will be to generate products with local materials. Reducing Earth delivery requirements reduces overall mission cost and launch weight. It also allows for the construction of infrastructure using space-based resources, a practice called in-situ resource utilization (ISRU). NASA is making long term investments to advance ISRU technology across multiple areas, including regolith-based in-space manufacturing and construction.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 9:42 a.m. EDT. Cygnus will remain at the space station for about three months until the spacecraft departs in November.
The spacecraft’s arrival brings more than 8,200 pounds of research and supplies to space station. Highlights of cargo aboard Cygnus include:
DURANGO, Colo. (Agile Space Industries PR) – Agile Space Industries, an aerospace propulsion innovator founded in 2009, has acquired additive manufacturing (AM) leader, Tronix3D, to continue their mission of innovating in-space propulsion systems. The newly integrated entity will be known as Agile Additive and will extend the innovations of Tronix3D in printing exotic alloys for complex, high-performance aerospace components to transform how space companies execute their most demanding missions.
LONG BEACH, Calif., June 8, 2021 (Relativity Space PR) – Relativity Space, has revealed today its plans for Terran R, its fully reusable, entirely 3D-printed launch vehicle.
As a two-stage, 216-foot-tall rocket with a 16-foot diameter, and a 5-meter payload fairing, Terran R will be entirely reusable and capable of launching 20,000kg to low Earth orbit (LEO). Created in Relativity’s Factory of the Future, by the same printers as Terran 1, Terran R has unique aeronautical features and complex structures. The company’s proprietary 3D printing process utilizes software-driven manufacturing, exotic materials and unique design geometries that are not possible in traditional manufacturing, driving unprecedented innovation and disruption in the industry.
NASA has selected Relativity Space for that a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award that will allow the company to continue developing a suite of sensors capable of real-time detection of flaws in 3D printing.
“At this time, we do not perform automatic, real-time defect detection, but the company has developed significant elements that when integrated together demonstrate the capability for real-time in-situ flaw detection. We use sensors and cameras to collect data on multi-dimension time series; real-time processing elements to review camera and time series data; and closed-feedback loops to modify print deposition parameters,” the company said in the project summary.
Relativity Space, which is 3D printing its launch vehicle, said the suite of sensors will have a variety of uses both on Earth and in space.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., May 11, 2021 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed a successful RL10C-X altitude hot fire test series that put the next generation engine through the rigors of a typical spaceflight mission. Using a test chamber that simulates the vacuum of outer space, the RL10C-X, which produces roughly 24,000 pounds of thrust, was tested in a flight-like configuration to demonstrate the engine’s capability to complete a typical mission profile, including multiple restarts.
The RL10C-X is the next evolution of the company’s RL10 upper-stage engine and contains major components – including the injector and combustion chamber – produced with the company’s industry-leading 3D printing technology.
HOUSTON (SpaceFund PR) — SpaceFund Inc., announced it has fully deployed investments from its first “LaunchPad” fund today. The venture capital firm placed investor funds in 14 companies, including both some well-known NewSpace stars, as well as seeding rising stars it believes capable of helping lead humanity into the frontier of space.
“We’re right on track in our plan to seed and support the growth of these amazing companies,” said SpaceFund founder Rick Tumlinson. “Our formula is working. First we find brilliant frontier tech startups in need of early funding, then we bring in funds from visionary investors, and after significant diligence, we place those funds in just the right places to power the space revolution.”
ARLINGTON, Va. and LAUSANNE, Switzerland — CAES, the leading provider of RF technologies and related mission critical electronic solutions, and SWISSto12, the leading provider of 3D printed technology for RF applications in the aerospace and defense industry, announced today a strategic alliance to enable CAES to bring additive manufacturing and 3D printing technology to US customers. The alliance grants CAES exclusive license to SWISSto12’s patents, trade secrets, and product designs for the US market. CAES and SWISSto12 will work together with US customers on new designs to meet the high performance requirements of future missions.
TOKYO (Nikon PR) — Nikon Corporation (Nikon) has acquired majority ownership of Morf3D Inc. (CEO: Ivan Madera, head office: El Segundo, CA, hereinafter “Morf3D”), a trusted leader in metal additive manufacturing (AM) specializing in AM and engineering for the aerospace, space and defense industries, for an undisclosed amount.
Nikon has more than a century of cutting-edge technology and manufactures some of the most precise equipment in the world, with its products being used in applications ranging from advanced semiconductor manufacturing and mass production of panels for televisions and smart devices, to medical systems, automotive and satellites. Nikon is committed to applying its extensive technologies, deeply rooted in light, opto-electronics and precision excellence, to creating value in novel fields and solving societal challenges.
BASTROP, Texas (NASA PR) — A team of students from colleges and universities across the United States – members of the Artemis Generation – tested a 3D printed launch and landing pad to see how it holds up to a hot rocket engine March 6 at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas. The students’ design concept – called the Lunar Plume Alleviation Device, or Lunar PAD – aims to solve problems caused by lunar dust kicked up during launches and landings.
The students first proposed the new design for a competitive proposal writing workshop led by the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and the L’SPACE Academy – the student collaboration project for NASA’s Lucy mission at Arizona State University in Tempe.
The team won funding to print and test a small-scale prototype with help from NASA’s Moon-to-Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technologies (MMPACT) project, Austin-based construction technologies startup ICON, and the Sounding Rocketry Team at Texas A&M University in College Station.
Artemis is NASA’s robotic and human return to the Moon. Inspiring the next generation of explorers – the Artemis Generation – ensures America will continue to lead in space exploration and discovery. MMPACT is funded by NASA’s Game Changing Development Program.
SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Five UK organisations have been awarded a total of £300,000 [$416,884] from the UK Space Agency to speed up the development of innovative space technology.
Recipients include the University of Leeds, which will develop 3D printing methods and liquid-crystal technology, similar to that in our television screens at home, to develop far-infrared sensors for studying climate change and star formation.
Another project, led by Rocket Engineering in London, will create a compact propulsion system the size of a house brick for use in nano and small satellites. The engines use electromagnets to enable the satellites to move for in-orbit spacecraft servicing or space debris mitigation.
PARIS (ESA PR) — Improvising new stuff from the stuff you have is part of an astronaut’s job description – think Apollo 13’s crew refitting CO2 filters to save their own lives, or stranded Mark Watney in The Martian, feeding himself on the Red Planet. Now plans are underway to manufacture items in orbit, and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst argues this could make a big difference to living and working in space.
Alexander – who has spent just under a year in orbit, becoming the second European to command the International Space Station (ISS) – spoke at ESA’s Workshop on Advanced Manufacturing, which included a special session on out-of-Earth manufacturing.