The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced Thursday that it has employed tech firm Tethers Unlimited Inc (TUI) to build a factory that will use 3D printing and robotics technology to create giant structures like solar panels and antennas, up in space. NASA has extended a $500,000 grant to the company to fund the building.
As weird as it might seem, this particular factory will be an orbiting one that will produce arrays of the 3D printed spacecraft structures, up to a kilometer in length. This process is called the 'Spiderfab' technology, which is being developed by TUI. The grant will help the firm work further on the technology. The project will save the expenses of building all the stuff on earth and transporting them via rockets to deploy in space.
"On-orbit fabrication allows the material for these critical components to be launched in a very compact and durable form, such as spools of fiber or blocks of polymer, so they can fit into a smaller, less expensive launch vehicle," Dr. Rob Hoyt, TUI's CEO and chief scientist added in the statement.
"Once on-orbit, the SpiderFab robotic fabrication systems will process the material to create extremely large structures that are optimized for the space environment. This radically different approach to building space systems will enable us to create antennas and arrays that are tens-to-hundreds of times larger than are possible now, providing higher power, higher bandwidth, higher resolution, and higher sensitivity for a wide range of space missions."
The funding is awarded by NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program ,which also accepted six futuristic space projects like developing a Gravitational Wave Detector and Photonic Laser Thrusters, reports NBC News.
"As NASA begins a new chapter in exploration, we're investing in these seed-corn advanced concepts of next-generation technologies that will truly transform how we investigate and learn about our universe," Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for space technology said in the statement.
While NASA is developing more technology in search of life on other planets, realtors are already selling land on planets that haven't yet been proven to support life. Dennis Hope, founder of Lunar Embassy Corporation and a real estate agent claims that he has sold almost around 7.5 percent of moon's land and made around $600 million by selling 11 acres of the natural satellite. Not only can you buy property on the moon but can also own a piece of Mars (Martian Deeds) or Venus (Venusian Deed) or even both and more. He now sells land via a listing website, Moonestates.com.