3D Printing in Space

by Josh O'Dell
 

James T. Kirk called space the final frontier for good reason. Who knows what awaits there, what resources exist, what little scientific nuggets lie waiting in a distant galaxy, what discoveries are yet to be made. Planetary Resources, a Seattle-based group of earthlings, is making strides to see just what space has in store. Their mission: to bring “the natural resources of space within humanity’s economic sphere of influence.” What does this mean? They’re finding ways to mine asteroids for valuable resources. And 3D Systems is strapping in for the ride, ready to boldly go…

As of last week, 3D Systems became a proud member of Planetary Resources’ core group of investors and a major collaborator in developing and manufacturing components of Planetary’s ARKYD Series spacecraft. The ARKYD spacecraft series, comprised of three spacecraft, will provide progressively advanced asteroid monitoring, discovery, measurement and resource assessment in near-earth or deep space scenarios.

[via planetaryresources.com]

Notably, ARKYD 100 Space Telescope is the first public space telescope and represents the steppingstone upon which Planetary will develop progressively advanced asteroid exploration spacecraft. In fact, Planetary just capped off a successful Kickstarter campaign that garnered over 17,000 backers and accumulated over $1.5 million.

Of course, 3D systems is thrilled to play a part by transforming what has always been, in the words of CEO Avi Reichental, “an old-style, labor-intensive process, into something very scalable and affordable that will democratize access to space.” And access to space can make a big difference down the line: vast new resource supplies and reduced impact of mining on Earth. Maybe even strange new worlds, new life and new civilizations.