Email a tool

You probably saw this one already (one of the hassles of this blog scheduling so much stuff into the future just so you don’t get spammed).. But in case you missed it…..

When International Space Station Commander Barry Wilmore needed a wrench, NASA knew just what to do. They “e-mailed” him one. This is the first time an object has been designed on Earth and then transmitted to space for manufacture.

They have a 3D printer on the ISS (International Space Station) and so they just needed the file to print the tool.
(That and the stuff the printer uses, called filament).

Previously, if an astronaut needed a specific tool it would have to be flown up on the next mission to the ISS, which could take months.

This isn’t the first 3D-printed object made in space, but it is the first created to meet the needs of an astronaut. In November astronauts aboard the ISS printed a replacement part for the recently installed 3D printer. A total of 21 objects have now been printed in space, all of which will be brought back to Earth for testing.

There is no question this sort of testing is really important. The concept of just taking raw material into space with you and building pretty much any part you need right there on the spot is really important for long term trips in space.
And yes. There are companies looking at the possibility of printing entire new wings or sections of the station right there in space.

We live in an amazing time.