Manufacturing large structures in space like space stations and space telescopes. Could be also called 3D printing, additive manufacturing, in-space assembly or in-space construction.
Multiple entities are developing prototypes.
- Space stations
- Solar arrays
- Space telescopes
- Space antennas, reflectors, radars
- Very long booms and shields
- Moon and Mars surface bases
- Space-based solar power
Why & Solution
Satellites and most space structures have been designed to fit into launcher fairing and to survive the launch environment. In other words, they are inefficient in terms of mass and volume or complicated deployable systems. Manufacturing or atl east assembling many structures in space could mean they can be much lighter, weaker and larger.
Archinaut from Made In Space is a technology platform that enables autonomous manufacture and assembly of spacecraft systems on orbit. Archinaut enables a wide range of in-space manufacturing and assembly capabilities by combining space-proven robotic manipulation with additive manufacturing demonstrated on the International Space Station (ISS) and in terrestrial laboratories. An initial version of Archinaut is the Optimast™ boom manufacturing system. Optimast systems can be integrated into commercial satellites to produce large, space-optimized booms at a fraction of the cost of current deployables. Other implementations of Archinaut enable in-space production and assembly of backbone structures for large telescopes, repair, augmentation, or repurposing of existing spacecraft, and unmanned assembly of new space stations. Spacecraft leveraging Archinaut are optimized for the space environment rather than the launch environment, enabling significantly more capable systems produced at lower costs as required for today’s commercial markets and NASA’s future mission needs.1
Tethers Unlimited (Firmamentum) is developing a revolutionary suite of technologies called "SpiderFab" to enable on-orbit fabrication of large spacecraft components such as antennas, solar panels, trusses, and other multifunctional structures. The primary benefit of this on-orbit fabrication capability will be order-of-magnitude improvements in packing efficiency and system mass, which will enable NASA to use small, low-cost launch vehicles to deploy systems dramatically larger than possible with current state-of-the-art technologies. Technologies range from prototype space-based 3-D printer called FabLab and the Trusselator, a device to create lengthy carbon composite structures in orbit. Space Systems Loral hired Firmamentum to demonstrate how a small satellite could use the Trusselator to extend the distance between its antennas, sensors or solar arrays. For the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Firmamentum is developing OrbWeaver, a small satellite to ride into orbit on an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter ring, chew up the ring and turn the pieces into a satellite antenna. 4
We are 3D-printing Humanity's Future through the Solar System! Aperture, an aircraft hangar-sized 3D-printer that will build all things aerospace on Earth, space stations in orbit, and infrastructure on other planets.
Transforming the way aerospace vehicles are manufactured with the vertically integrated “Aperture” additive manufacturing system, a machine-learning collaborative system for building vehicles and infrastructure on Earth, the Moon, or Mars.
Starting October 2022, SpaceFactory launched our first (terrestrial) commercial 3D printer, ASTRA. Building on the prototype developed for the NASA Centennial Challenge, SpaceFactory engineered ASTRA for scale, autonomy, and sustainability. Designed as a full-stack solution including material handling, ASTRA is a fraction of the price of comparable gantry style 3D printers. By reducing cost and technical barrier-to-entry, ASTRA’s mission is to enable the next generation of builders and creators.
Unlike conventional 3D prints, where layers are parallel to the ground, LINA will be 3D printed at a 60-degree angle to construct the continuous, vaulted roof. A regolith berm, prepared in advance, functions as an inclined print bed to support the initial layers. To prevent warping as the material cools, and to improve adhesion of the 3D print material to the regolith print bed, reusable metal tiebacks will be inserted into the berm to anchor the first layers. As the roof begins to take shape, a mobile excavator will follow behind the 3D print head to cover LINA with a protective regolith overburden. Finally, the regolith overburden is shaped to give LINA a sleek, yet symbiotic form designed to meld into the lunar landscape.
To construct LINA, SpaceFactory is advancing the development of a Space-rated 3D printing system designed to operate in vacuum with temperatures ranging from -170º to 70ºC. The first such prototype, built by SpaceFactory together with NASA, is undergoing testing at Kennedy Space Center in a lunar environmental chamber designed to mimic the exact conditions at the Lunar south pole. The 3D print material, formulated by SpaceFactory from BP-1 lunar simulant, was synthesized by NASA’s Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Lab and subsequently validated in static extrusion tests performed in vacuum.
In an alien environment 54.6 million kilometers away, construction and materials must be rethought entirely.
Architecture on Earth plays a critical role in the way we live. On Mars, this reaches a higher level of importance since buildings are also machines we depend on to keep us alive and well. In Space architecture, every design decision is of great consequence to the success of a mission. Structures must be resilient and interior layouts must be tuned to mission demands. And yet, since sustained social and mental health are also mission-critical, Space habitats must be designed to be rich, useful, and interesting worlds onto themselves. Marsha, AI SpaceFactory’s Mars habitat design, illustrates that the result can be both visionary and credible with an alien yet familiar beauty.
MARSHA employs a unique dual-shell scheme to isolate the habitable spaces from the structural stresses brought on by Mars’s extreme temperature swings. This separation makes the interior environment unbeholden to the conservativism required of the outer shell, which retains its simple and effective form. As a result, the interior is free to be designed in the sense we take for granted on Earth – around human needs.
Metal3D, developed by Airbus for the European Space Agency (ESA), is a real game changer. It uses metal as source material and prints it at 1,200 degrees Celsius to produce new parts such as radiation shields, tooling or equipment directly in orbit. Future versions of the 3D printer could also use materials such as regolith (moondust), or recycled parts from decommissioned satellites.
As early as the end of this decade, 3D printers could also be used on the Moon, enabling a sustainable human presence there by printing structures for lunar rovers or habitats. 3D printing in space or on the Moon is only the beginning. Airbus wouldn't be Airbus if it didn't take in-space manufacturing to the next level. As soon as in the next three to four years, it will be producing and assembling entire satellites in space. So its next satellite factory will not be in Europe or the United States, but in space, hundreds of kilometers above us.
The European aerospace giant Airbus has commenced the study phase of a factory for assembling an antenna and a satellite in earth’s orbit. Consisting of two robotic arms, a demonstrator of this concept is expected to be functional by as early as 2025. An industrial team is also working on developing a 3D printer for the International Space Station. Through the Horizon 2020 Program, Airbus will lead the PERASPERA In-Orbit Demonstration, or PERIOD project, focusing on building spacecraft while orbiting the Earth.
The PERASPERA In-Orbit Demonstration (PERIOD) project is one of the operational grants (OGs) of the third phase of the SRC with an objective to define an orbital demonstrator concept while capitalizing on the work of the previous phases of the SRC that have addressed the designing, manufacturing, and testing of reliable and high-performance robotic building blocks.
Anisoprint is a Luxembourg-based hardware startup producing 3D Printers that allow to manufacture continuous fiber reinforced plastic parts that can substitute metal ones in aerospace, engineering and many other areas along with cutting costs and increasing productivity.
Continuous Fiber Coextrusion (CFC), the technology that was developed and patented by the company, allows to create lattice structures, which is the key for multimaterial optimization and production. Such parts are lighter, stronger and cheaper than their metal analogs.
On site manufacturing minimizes delivery cost and shape limitations, it also reduces the number of delivery missions. The patented Anisoprint CFC technology creates zero waste which is environmentally efficient and does not increase the amount of space debris. In addition, it is fully automated manufacturing that does not require manual labor.
Astroport Space Technologies, Inc. was founded in 2020 as a technology venture arm and a subsidiary of Exploration Architecture Corporation. Astroport is developing patent-pending regolith solidification technologies for lunar infrastructure construction using 3D printing and autonomous robotics, with an initial focus on lunar landing pad emplacements.
XArc’s planetary construction subsidiary, Astroport Space Technologies, Inc., awarded NASA funding to develop lunar landing pad construction technology. Astroport was awarded a NASA Phase 1 Small Business Technology Transfer contract (STTR) for development of its lunar regolith melting technology for constructing landing pads on the Moon. Astroport and its research institution partner, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) will jointly develop technology for an “Induction Furnace-Nozzle for Forming and Placing Lunar Regolith Bricks for Landing Pad Construction”
A division of space startup company Exploration Architecture, Astroport was recently awarded its second NASA Phase 1 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract for construction work on the Moon. Astroport, which is located at Port San Antonio, will work to develop geotechnical engineering processes as part of its joint efforts with UTSA. “This research is a natural progression of the university’s regolith liquefaction investigations, in that the Phase 1 study will develop discreet-event modeling of the bulk regolith conveyance methods to help determine feed rates for Astroport’s Lunatron bricklayer system,” Bin-Shafique said.
- Astroport and its research partner, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), will develop geotechnical engineering processes for "Lunar Surface Site Preparation for Landing/Launch Pad and Blast Shield Construction" with a focus on "regolith works" for bulk regolith excavation and movement. The project will build on Astroport's previous Phase 1 STTR-21 work on regolith melting technologies and robotic bricklaying system for lunar infrastructure construction.
- The new research will describe a multi-step Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for "regolith works" executed by multiple machines operating autonomously or in remote control mode with step sequencing/timing to enable machine-to-machine collaboration. In particular, it will define conveyance techniques and sorting and filtering processes to prepare and deliver excavated regolith to Astroport's Lunatron™ bricklayer system.
Astroport Space Technologies, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas USA, and FourPoint, headquartered in Wrocław, Poland, announce they are joint signatories of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for collaboration on the construction of a lunar launch and landing pad (LLP).
- Astroport is developing patent-pending technology to melt lunar soil (regolith) to form durable lunar bricks using its LunatronTM brick-making machine. These bricks can then be used as a coating for flat surfaces such as airstrips, roads or the foundations of structures. Astroport has received separate research funding for the development of its in-furnace smelting technology, The regolithic raw material for the manufacture of bricks is acquired during the excavation and leveling phase for the preparation of the landing site.
- For this, FourPoint will use its Autonomous Transport Platform (ATP) for the transport and delivery of sorted and filtered materials that will feed the LunatronTM brickyard. FourPoint's ATP offers a complete solution for autonomous machine operation, suitable for work in specific areas, which improves the speed and efficiency of work in surface mines, as well as other extreme environments. such as the lunar surface.
SBIR Phase I in 2015: A laser heating system (LHS) for the automated fiber placement (AFP) of thermoplastic composites (TPC) has recently been developed by Automated Dynamics to technology readiness level (TRL) three.
- Agriculture, mining, tourism, manufacturing and long-term human habitation.
- With a keen focus on Venus and enabling O'Neill structures.
- Help develop and exercise ability in order to dynamically scale the operations (if and when needed).
- Assist global military operations with mega-engineering projects. Including but not limited to: Asteroid defense (deflect/attack/other) system, shielding from a potential solar storm. As well, help develop safeguard against other larger scale (potential) disruptions.
- The project will focus on how reconfigurable autonomous robotic technologies can be used to automatically manufacture components, assemble large structures, and service or repair existing space assets. The SMARTER concept, i.e. a manufacturing factory in space, could ultimately lower launch costs, the exploration of space and improve mission sustainability i.e. extend the useful life of assets launched into space.
- "Manufacturing in space has the potential to positively affect human spaceflight operations by enabling the in-orbit manufacture of replacement parts and tools, which could reduce existing logistics requirements for the International Space Station (ISS) and future long-duration human space missions. In-space manufacturing could enable space-based construction of large structures and, perhaps someday, in the future, entire spacecraft. In-space manufacturing can also help to reimagine a new space architecture that is not constrained by the design and manufacturing confines of gravity, current manufacturing processes, and launch-related structural stresses.
- Funded Value: £513 346.
- Funded Period: January 2018 - June 2020.
- Funder: Innovate UK.
Outward Technologies proposes to continue development of a Sintering End Effector for Regolith (SEER) in Phase II. The SEER system enables efficient transmission (>82.2%) of Concentrated Solar Energy (CSE) for a wide range of high temperature processes including additive manufacturing, additive construction, and oxygen production on the Moon.
SEER enables heating lunar regolith to maintain a focal point temperature between 1,000-1,100°C and sintering at translation speeds of between 1-10 mm/s. SEER may be interfaced with a primary solar concentrator through a fiber optic waveguide, or through a free space optical design for dramatically improved transmission efficiencies and reduced launch mass.
The SEER design is scalable, efficient, durable, lightweight, and an ideal choice for regolith sintering and ISRU on the Moon. SEER enables continuous operation for high temperature thermochemical processes without causing damage to sensitive optics. The design is resistant to fouling from regolith dust, spallation, sputtering, and gases produced with high processing temperatures.
SEER is used to provide controlled, high temperatures for powering thermochemical processes with concentrated solar energy. SEER may be used to replace fossil fuels in high temperature thermochemical processes for industrial decarbonization at locations on Earth with abundant sunlight.
- Cislune and UCF propose a site preparation architecture that relies upon in-situ resources and a small number of rovers and excavators working as a swarm to build durable lunar surfaces with size-sorted and then compacted lunar regolith. Efficient manipulation of bulk regolith via size-sorting and compaction is the most efficient architecture for lunar site preparation. We will test compaction techniques on various combinations of regolith simulant size fractions to determine the maximum strength available from compressed regolith. We will also do PSI and CFD modeling to determine requirements for landing spacecraft to determine where compressed regolith can be used.
- Site preparation will be required on the Moon and Mars as landing sites are developed for robotic and human missions. NASA is considering the lunar South Pole of the Moon with PSR’s for water ice, peaks of eternal light for power and heat, and continuous line-of-sight to the Earth for communications which will make it the focus of intensive and repeated robotic and human operations. Crew safety is significantly improved with landing pads and a reduction in ejecta.
Surface Construction - High Efficiency Sintering via Beneficiation of the Building Material
- We propose a construction system that magnetically beneficiates the soil to create a layered surface then sinters it relying on antenna near-field energy absorbance. The layering will consist of a highly microwave-susceptible, highly thermal-conductive top layer, on top of a poorly microwave-susceptible, poorly thermal-conductive sublayer. The antenna system will be optimized for magnetically dominant or electrically dominant reactive near fields as required for maximum absorbance in the beneficiated top layer. These innovations will ensure microwave energy is maximally deposited into the upper, sintering region with minimal deposition below that layer, and that it is maximally retained in that region rather than conducting deeper in the soil where temperatures do not reach sintering levels.
- The system will also use multiple wavelengths corresponding to the changing absorbance of lunar soil as a function of temperature during the heating process. The entire system (excavating, beneficiating, laying and compacting layers, and sintering) can be packaged onto a single robot for single-pass construction of landing pads and roads, or these functions can be separated into distinct excavation, beneficiation, and construction machines for larger-scale efficiency in future operations. This system will save the exploration program hundreds of millions (potentially billions) of dollars by reducing sintering energy by a factor of 2 or more, recouping the gigantic time-value of the lunar surface power systems.
- NASA can use this system to build landing pads, roads, and regolith shields over outposts on the lunar surface. Since lander blast mitigation is a major problem, there is high probability of using this system early in a lunar surface program.
HRL Laboratories is a corporate research-and-development laboratory owned by The Boeing Company and General Motors specializing in research into sensors and materials, information and systems sciences, applied electromagnetics, and microelectronics.
HRL Laboratories, LLC, has been selected as one of eight industry and university research teams for the Novel Orbital Moon Manufacturing, Materials, and Mass Efficient Design (NOM4D) program from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).
- The NOM4D program seeks to create a disruptive change in the way future space structures, such as orbital power stations or large radio frequency (RF) apertures with 100 meter diameter, are made. If successful, the extremely low energy structural forming and joining techniques developed under this program will enable much larger, more efficient structures than are possible today.
- To do this, NOM4D teams are tasked with foundational proofs of concept in materials science, manufacturing, and design technologies. These prototype structures will show a path to overcome the size constraint of launch vehicle fairings and limited in-orbit power for forming and joining of large space structures.
- Current large space structures, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, rely on deployable technology – mechanized structures that can fold, roll, or inflate – that are stowed prior to launch in a compact package and then deployed after launch to full size. “By forming materials to their final shape in space, we dispense with added structural mass needed to meet launch requirements,” said Dr. Christopher Henry, HRL’s Principal Investigator on NOM4D.
- “HRL’s HYDRIde Forming for ORbital Manufacturing (HYDRIFORM) approach leverages HRL’s multi-disciplinary capabilities, together with our team L’Garde Inc. and ALLVAR, to develop a novel in space manufacturing concept that is both size and power efficient for fabrication yet pushes the bounds of efficient space structures,” said Dr. Henry.
- HRL will demonstrate the key elements to achieve structures that can be built up from energy efficient structural members that are both formed and joined in space. These elements are: mass and power efficient forming of metallic members; and joining of metallic members in a lightweight, yet durable manner. “Both of these assembly operations have not really been explored previously and would form the basis for the ability to manufacture an arbitrarily large spacecraft structure,” adds Brian Hempe, HRL’s Lead Development Engineer.
Made In Space, a Redwire subsidiary, developed the Ceramic Manufacturing Machine (CMM) that launched to the International Space Station in October 2020. In December 2020 CMM successfully UV cured polymer resin layer-by-layer in microgravity for the first time. This material enables additive manufacturing of different polymers and ceramics at high resolution in space. This new capability would allow astronauts to rapidly print replacement parts, tools and other items, eliminating the need to bring and store spare parts and tools that might never be used. This flexibility will be critical for future missions such as a crewed mission to Mars.
- Ceramic Additive Manufacturing has been demonstrated for the first time on the International Space Station using HRL’s Pre-ceramic Resin.
- The structural parts of space infrastructure, such as solar arrays, telescopes and satellites, are currently designed to withstand the high loads at launch and end up with significant parasitic mass once deployed in space. Additive manufacturing in space could reduce by a large factor the amount of material launched to build space infrastructure. 3D printing ceramic materials is especially interesting for these applications, since ceramics are much more resistant to radiation exposure and extreme temperatures than polymers, and easier to print than lightweight metals.
Space-based construction system to support future exploration of the Moon. ICON develops advanced construction technologies that advance humanity by using 3D printing robotics, software and advanced materials.
ICON has engaged two award-winning architecture firms as partners for the audacious project: BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, renowned for their iconic international architecture and SEArch+ (Space Exploration Architecture), a company recognized on a global scale for their innovative ‘human-centered’ designs for space exploration.
Lunar Lantern, a base concept developed by ICON as part of a NASA-supported project to build a sustainable outpost on the moon. This proposal is currently being showcased as part of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at the La Biennale di Venezia museum in Venice, Italy. The Lunar Lantern emerged from Project Olympus, a research and development program made possible thanks to a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract and funding from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). Consistent with ICON's commitment to developing advanced construction technologies, the purpose of Olympus was to create a space-based construction system that will support NASA and other future exploration efforts on the moon. To realize this vision, ICON partnered with two architectural firms: the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), and Space Exploration Architecture (SEArch+). Whereas BIG is renowned for its iconic architecture and its work on multiple Lunar and Martian concepts in the past several years, SEArch+ is recognized for its "human-centered" designs for space exploration and its long-standing relationship with NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) and Langley Research Center (LRC).
ICON To Develop Lunar Surface Construction System With $57.2 Million NASA Award. ICON, a leader in advanced construction technologies and large-scale 3D printing, announced in November 2022 that it has received a contract awarded under Phase III of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
- The nearly $60 million contract builds upon previous NASA and Department of Defense funding for ICON’s Project Olympus to research and develop space-based construction systems to support planned exploration of the Moon and beyond.
- ICON’s Olympus system is intended to be a multi-purpose construction system primarily using local Lunar and Martian resources as building materials to further the efforts of NASA as well as commercial organizations to establish a sustained lunar presence.
- In support of NASA’s Artemis program, ICON plans to bring its advanced hardware and software into space via a lunar gravity simulation flight.
- ICON also intends to work with lunar regolith samples brought back from Apollo missions and various regolith simulants to determine their mechanical behavior in simulated lunar gravity.
Building the structures in space that will save us here on earth. Our approach will unlock cheaper & more capable pressure vessels in orbit while paving the way for the future of deep space exploration.
Unlocking lunar colonisation though automated habitat construction. Our approach will unlock cheaper & more capable pressure vessels in orbit while paving the way for the future of deep space exploration.
The key enabler of the proposed FSW machine is a self adjusting and self aligning FSW (SAA-FSW) tool that eliminates the need for automated actuators. In addition, a collection of force reduction techniques will be included as part of the system.
Expanding the capability of human exploration is a primary goal for NASA and the In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) program which focuses on transforming available material resources on extraterrestrial surfaces into usable materials and products.
By identifying, collecting, and converting local resources into products that can reduce mission mass, cost, and/or risk, a sustainable manned expedition to Mars becomes closer to reality. Bulk or modified regolith can be combined with a binder as a concrete aggregate to form a construction material that can be extruded into bricks or slabs for structures, shelters, landing pads, roads, and shielding.
With this goal in mind, researchers at Luna have identified a polymer concrete formulation based on urea-formaldehyde (UF) that can be pressed into high compressive strength interlocking bricks suitable for construction. Luna's binder system can also be produced in-situ from feed gases identified by NASA (N2, H2, CO2) while generating O2 and water. If successful, these UF polymers are also expected to have additional use in the production of plastic parts or components to support mission sustainability.
Rhea Space Activity (RSA) and its partner Lunar Resources pitched to the Air Force a concept to deploy two spacecraft to manufacture a large mirror in space. The mirror would be installed, in orbit, into a telescope that would be used to detect hypersonic vehicles. Lunar Resources is an in-space manufacturing company that helped RSA develop the concept for how to construct a very large EO/IR mirror in space. One of the payloads would “spray paint” the optical coatings needed to make the EO/IR mirror on a small satellite dubbed Ruby Sky. At the Space Pitch Day event, the Air Force awarded Lunar Resources a $750,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 contract, with RSA as a subcontractor, to get the project moving.
Partners with DSTAR Communications which has established a team to create an external material processing platform on the International Space Station with autonomous, high throughput manufacturing capability. Markets for products manufactured by this facility include infrared optical fibers in medical and defense applications and ultralight solar arrays for commercial and military space platforms. The unique microgravity environment of space eliminates convection and sedimentation that occur on Earth, enabling the manufacture of premium quality materials and products with fewer defects and improved performance. In addition, the vacuum of space enables vacuum deposition in the same facility for improved reliability and improved functionality of the resulting products.
Conducting a six-month test in 2021 of technology for in-space manufacturing of large 3D carbon fiber structures that could be used to construct solar arrays, star shades and interferometry antennas. Kleos has been designing and developing in-space manufacturing technology called Futrism to robotically produce a carbon-fiber I-beam with embedded fiber-optic cables that is more than 100 meters long.
A prototype COPMA system has been successfully built and tested under ‘near space’ conditions at Magna Parva’s Leicester development facility. It demonstrates the potential for the production of assemblies, equipment or even buildings from fully cured and consolidated carbon fibre materials, potentially miles in length. Magna Parva’s innovative technology enables the deployment of extremely large, repeatable, composite structures. Radio antennae, synthetic aperture radar systems and radio / optical interferometers are examples of items that are feasible to make in space using the COPMA system.
The new precision robotic technology manufactures 3D space structures using a supply of carbon fibres and a resin that are processed by pultrusion through a heat forming die in a continuous process, producing cured carbon composite elements of extraordinary length. As the resin and materials behave differently in space, the development has included testing under both ambient atmospheric and vacuum conditions. While pultrusion itself is an established manufacturing process, it has now been scaled down to a size where the equipment can be accommodated on spacecraft, and further work is under way to advance the technical readiness of the concept.
COPMA stands for ‘Consolidated Off Planet Manufacturing and Assembly System for Large Space Structures’, and allows the fabrication in space of large structures that would be difficult to produce on Earth due to limitations at launch. Current pre-manufactured structures designed to go into space are high in mass and volume and have specific launch environment requirements. By manufacturing in space, many of these requirements are eliminated, allowing the production and deployment of extremely large composite structures. They can be made much thinner, larger and use less material than they would need if terrestrially produced, avoiding the rigours of launch.
In-Space Manufacturing (Kleos Space, Magna Parva) has developed a patented in-Space manufacturing system that will provide a method of producing huge carbon composite 3D structures in space. A prototype system has been successfully built and tested under ‘near space’ conditions at our development facility. It demonstrates the potential for the production of assemblies, equipment or even buildings from fully cured and consolidated carbon fibre materials, potentially miles in length. Patented (GB2500786B) precision robotic technology manufactures 3D space structures using a supply of carbon fibres and a resin that are processed by pultrusion through a heat forming die in a continuous process, producing cured carbon composite elements of extraordinary length that also encompass intelligent elements such as sensors, fibre optics or wiring. As the resin and materials behave differently in space, the development has included testing under both ambient atmospheric and vacuum conditions. While pultrusion itself is an established manufacturing process, it has now been scaled down to a size where the equipment can be accommodated on spacecraft, and further work is under way to advance the technical readiness of the concept. Manufacturing speed of prototype system is 1mm/s, equating to 1 mile of structure per 18 days.
For more than two decades, Maxar robotics have empowered innovative commercial and government programs, including robotic arms on six of NASA’s Mars rovers and landers, which rely on Maxar robotic arms to dig, drill, sample and explore the Martian surface.
Maxar Technologies’ Space Systems Loral division terminated an agreement to build DARPA’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites spacecraft Jan. 30, leading to a potential recompete of the program.
Maxar said it also canceled a contract with Space Infrastructure Services, a company it created that would have commercialized the RSGS servicer after a DARPA demonstration, starting with an in-orbit refueling mission for fleet operator SES.
On-orbit satellite assembly - Spider
In partnership with NASA, our Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER) program will demo on-orbit assembly and reconfiguration services of spacecraft components. This will reduce the need to launch fully-assembled systems and enable deployment of larger, more powerful components for advanced operations.
On-orbit satellite servicing - OSAM-1
Maxar is building the spacecraft bus and robotic arms for NASA’s OSAM-1 program, which will refuel and relocate a satellite on-orbit. Adaptable and resilient, the robotic arms are designed to capture, manipulate and refuel satellites that were not originally designed for servicing.
In-space transportation - Power and propulsion element
The first component for the NASA-led Gateway, a lunar orbiting module, will be the Maxar-built Power and Propulsion Element. This element will power the Gateway, maintain its position, and enable critical communications, which will support human missions on the moon and to Mars in the future.
Maxar is designing the Power Propulsion Element to host a variety of external interfaces for future docking, robotics and science payloads.
Space exploration - SAMPLR
The first robotic arm to return to the moon in over 50 years will be Maxar’s SAMPLR, or Sample Acquisition, Morphology Filtering, and Probing of Lunar Regolith. It will be part of our payload for NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to send the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024.
The novel technology makes use of a newly developed liquid resin that was custom formulated for stability in vacuum. The resin enables structures to be fabricated in space using a low-power process that uses the sun’s ultraviolet rays for photopolymerization.
The technology specifically addresses the challenge of equipping small, inexpensive spacecraft buses with large structures, such as high-gain antenna reflectors, and enables on- orbit fabrication of structures that greatly exceed the dimensions of launch vehicle fairings. Resin-based, on-orbit manufacturing is expected to enable spacecraft structures to be made thinner and lighter than conventional designs, which must survive the stresses of launch and orbital insertion, thereby reducing both total satellite weight and launch costs.
The company has so far only demonstrated how the technology works in simulated space-like conditions in a test chamber. Mitsubishi researchers printed an antenna dish 6.5 inches (16,5 centimeters) wide that performed in tests just as well as a conventional satellite antenna.
Nanoracks just made space construction and manufacturing history with the first demonstration of cutting metal in orbit.
Outpost Mars Demo-1
Voyager and Nanoracks are excited to announce that our first Outpost demonstration mission (Outpost Mars Demo-1) is expected to launch this month aboard SpaceX’s Transporter 5 rideshare flight. This mission is part of our Outpost Program, which is focused on transforming used launch vehicle upper stages into uncrewed, controllable platforms. Nanoracks designed a self-contained hosted payload platform to demonstrate on-orbit, debris-free, robotic metal cutting.
- Our partner in this demonstration, Maxar Technologies, developed a new robotic arm with a friction milling end-effector. Friction milling uses a cutting tool operating at high rotations per minute to melt the metal in such a way that a cut is made, and no debris is generated. Maxar’s robotic cutter is equipped with thermal sensors and cameras, and once in space,
- Nanoracks and Maxar will have up to one hour to complete the cutting of three metal pieces, made of corrosion resistant steel (the same material that is used on the outer shell of ULA’s Vulcan Centaur) without creating any debris in the process. The demonstration itself will occur about 9 minutes into flight and will be finished approximately 10 minutes later. The rest of the time the team will downlink the photos and video to the ground stations until the vehicle and hosted payloads de-orbit over the Pacific.
Maritime Launch Services and Houston-based Nanoracks have signed an agreement to work on repurposing the upper stages of MLS's rockets — the parts of the vehicle that contained fuel and are released as it climbs into orbit. The company plans to use Cyclone 4M rockets, designed by Ukrainian company Yuzhnoye and manufactured by Yuzhmash.
Nanoracks made space construction and manufacturing history with the first demonstration of cutting metal in orbit. The technique could be critical for the next generation of large-scale space stations and even lunar habitats.
- The experiment was performed back in May by Nanoracks and its parent company Voyager Space, after getting to orbit aboard the SpaceX Transporter 5 launch. The company only recently released additional details on Friday.
- The goal of Outpost Mars Demo-1 mission was to cut a piece of corrosion-resistant metal, similar to the outer shell of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur and common in space debris, using a technique called friction milling.
- It was conducted in partnership with Maxar Technologies, who developed the robotic arm that executed the cut. That arm used a commercially available friction milling end effector, and the entire structure was contained in the Outpost spacecraft to ensure that no debris escaped. Indeed, one of the main goals of the demonstration was to produce no debris — and it worked.
- Using a technique called friction milling, the robotic arm used a commercial cutting tool at a high speed to soften the metal while cutting it and reducing debris. The enclosure that held the robotic arm and metal samples was on a Nanoracks circuit.
OffWorld’s robots measure around two feet in length, weigh around 53 kilos, and boast a power capacity of around 13.5 kWh. They are designed to be small and robust enough to neatly pack into and survive launches on rockets. Care has been paid to making sure they will be able to operate in a variety of non-Earth environments, including the moon, Mars and even the surface of asteroids without requiring a major redesign.
Joined Team L3 for the Phase 2 of the NASA Space Robotics Challenge! Team L3 and OffWorld will develop software solutions to enable a team of up to six rovers to explore a virtual simulation of the Lunar South Pole, find regions with high concentrations of volatiles, excavate those from the regolith and transport them to the processing plants.
Starting in 2014, both OHB Systems and BEEVERYCREATIVE participated in a consortium to pursue the Manufacturing of Experimental Layer Technology (MELT) project for ESA. The goal of this project was to design a fully functional AM breadboard model that could work in microgravity environments and use engineering polymers such as PEEK. In May 2018, the MELT 3D printer prototype was delivered to ESA, which became Europe’s first 3D printer for space.
IMPERIAL Additive Manufacturing Project
Capable of 3D printing parts much larger than itself, the new machine dubbed IMPERIAL overcomes one of the main constraints of current off-Earth 3D printers, limited build volume. The project was undertaken for ESA by a consortium led by German space technology firm OHB SE, with Berlin-based space engineering company Azimut Space; the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland, and Portuguese 3D printer manufacturers BEEVERYCREATIVE. Now that the ground-based prototype is complete, the next step would be to test it in orbit aboard the ISS.
The IMPERIAL project is not the only additive manufacturing-related initiative that OHB System and ESA are collaborating on. In fact, the company’s Human Spaceflight department has worked with the space agency for the past three years on 3D printing applications for space exploration. One of the more notable projects is ESA’s plan to 3D print a Lunar Base. OHB System reportedly helped to conceive of the project and put together the corresponding study.
A ground-based prototype for a new microgravity 3D printer is now complete and awaits deployment to the International Space Station (ISS) for testing. Capable of 3D printing parts much larger than itself, the new machine dubbed IMPERIAL overcomes one of the main constraints of current off-Earth 3D printers, limited build volume.
Developing Tubular Truss Additive Manufacturing (TTAM) for mass efficient truss structures manufactured in space. Our Tensioned Precision Structures (TPS) offer new design paradigms for in-space manufacturing of large space structures.
Opterus designs and fabricates massive composite space structures that fit in extremely small payloads, which later expand in space. As an example, Opterus can fit 40m (131.2 ft) rigid structural supports, known as Trussed Collapsible Tubular Masts (TCTM), into shoebox-size packages. With a mass of just 6.5 kg, Opterus provides a feasible and cost-effective means for sending large solar arrays, reflectors, antennas, and other structures to space.
Tubular Truss Additive Manufacturing (TTAM)
Opterus is developing the Tubular Truss Additive Manufacturing (TTAM) architecture. In a patent pending process, TTAM uses collapsible tubular masts (CTMs) to fabricate high performance trusses in lengths exceeding 1 kilometer. Key features of the technology are structural mass efficiency, volumetric efficiency, high dimensional stability, rapid low energy in-space fabrication, and reusability. TTAM trusses are expected to be 10 times lighter weight that current state of the art deployable structures because:
- they achieve the form of a truss of thin-walled tubes, which is the most structurally efficiency form and
- they use the highest performance materials, carbon fiber composites.
CTMs for TTAM are low-cost roll-to-roll pultruded booms that can be flattened and roll stowed for extreme volumetric efficiency; the CTM feed stock for a 100m truss is expected to occupy less than 1 ft3 volume.
TTAM’s baseline fastening approach is a custom mechanical fastener that is readily installed and also removable to enable structure reuse and recycling. The fastener also provides an attachment point for payloads and utilities. The TTAM architecture does not use heat or time dependent curing processes; the CTMs are deformed elastically and the fasteners are mechanical features.
Tensioned Precision Structures (TPS)
Opterus is developing Tensioned Precision Structures (TPS) to achieve extremely high structural mass efficiency and resiliency apertures manufactured in space. TPSs use tension, not structural depth, to achieve dimensional stability. As a result, they minimize thermal deformations while achieving a very simple architecture. The basic architecture is a circular ring truss that tensions a network of cables within the ring. The cable network forms an effective membrane reference surface of extremely low mass and high precision.
The tensioned disc architecture is a compromise between resiliency, simplicity and mass efficiency and results from decades of experience solving the challenges of large space structures. With TPS, the ring truss is first fabricated in orbit bay by bay using Opterus’ patent pending TTAM architecture until a full ring is formed. Second, the cable network will be installed. Installation is notionally performed by autonomous robotic spacecraft that move along the ring truss and fastens cables to attachment points. The operational surface is then attached to the cable network. Where parabolic surfaces are needed, stand-offs are installed to actively shape the surface.
Optomec, a leading global supplier of production-grade additive manufacturing systems for 3D printed electronics and 3D printed metals, announced in 2017 that the company was awarded a NASA SBIR contract for the further development of an Adaptive Laser Sintering System (ALSS).
The success of this endeavor will enable electronic circuitry to be printed onto a wider variety of temperature sensitive substrates expanding its use for production applications. The fully automated system will also enable printed circuitry to be repaired or manufactured with minimal human intervention paving the way for its use in long duration NASA space missions.
Working in conjunction with Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, this project will enhance Optomec laser sintering technology to a fully automated curing system for printed electronics. The Optomec-Harding team seeks to enhance the localized laser sintering concept by developing an ALSS with in-situ automated adjustment of laser power and processing time. This will pave the way for the use of this advanced technology in the next generation of human space exploration and also expand production use of printed electronics to a broader range of temperature sensitive substrates used in commercial applications.
The success of this endeavor could prove to be of vital importance to NASA’s in-space, on-demand manufacturing capabilities to support the unique challenges of long-duration human spaceflight. The developed automated, in-line quality control system with ALSS will meet the requirements for long-duration human space missions with minimal need for astronaut intervention. This will allow NASA to print conformal electronics and sensors onto flexible substrates of various geometrical complexities and then fully cure them using Aerosol Jet technology, all while in space.
“After the successful design, test and implementation of ALSS, the science and technology of laser sintering will be better understood for controllable adaptive operations” said Optomec CTO, Mike Renn. “ALSS can be a key solution to NASA’s challenge of in-space, on-demand manufacturing capabilities to support the unique challenges of long-duration human spaceflight, which requires an automated adaptive in-line quality control system along with the associated manufacturing process.”
Edmond Wilson, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry at Harding University says “Harding University is excited to help develop a robust, intuitive Adaptive Laser Sintering System (ALSS) with OPTOMEC, Inc., the inventor and international leader in 3D Aerosol Jet Printing. Successful development of laser assisted drying and sintering of 3D printed electronics will greatly reduce the production time for 3D printed electronics devices and substantially reduce the need for human intervention. We look forward to mentoring student researchers and help them jump start their careers by tackling cutting edge technology problems. Additionally, we know NASA is interested in automated 3D electronics printing for long duration space missions and look forward to work with OPTOMEC to meet that goal.”
Our long term goal is to create a powerful space construction industry able to complete any sized projects ranging from LEO to lunar orbit. Orbital Assembly will become a buyer of space construction equipment from engineering firms all over the world producing machines and tools designed for Space: Fabrication, Assembly and Construction (FAC).
In 2021, announced the opening of its new production facility in Fontana, California that will develop the technologies and structures to build the world’s first space hotel with lunar levels of gravity between the Earth and the moon. The company is progressing towards its first mission launch deadline scheduled for 2023 and will begin a new round of financing in May 2021 via Net Capital to raise $7 million.
Orbital Assembly Corporation (OAC), the only company advancing the development and operation of the first commercially viable, space-based business park with gravity, is partnering with the 100 Year Starship initiative, seed-funded by DARPA, founded and led former astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison.
In 2022, Micro Meat, a pioneer in the alternative protein industry, and Orbital Assembly (OA), developer of space-based business parks with variable gravity, have signed a memorandum of understanding to co-develop cultivated meat production systems in space. Under the agreement, Micro Meat will install its proprietary meat production equipment aboard OA’s Pioneer-classTM space station to provide food for space station personnel. The Pioneer-classTM stations are the world’s first and largest hybrid space stations for both work and play and will be the first free-flying, habitable, privately-operated facility in orbit. The project will give Micro Meat the opportunity to enhance the efficiency of its production process and make it more of a scalable protein production system on earth.
In December 2022, Orbital Assembly (OA), a leader in the race to make Hybrid-Gravity™ space accessible for leisure, commercial and industrial activities has announced a new equity offering (Regulation CF).
- Over the last three years, Orbital Assembly completed schematic design of the Voyager-class™ station and Pioneer-class™ space platforms, and the OASIS™ habitation module. The company has signed agreements with dozens of partners, vendors, and future customers.
- The company is also pursuing a number of Small Business Administration projects (SBIR) with multiple agencies in the Department of Defense.
- Orbital Assembly offers consulting services to assist these customers in preparing for use of our orbital assets and fly payload on the first Pioneer-class station, with planned initial operation within 30 months contingent on funding.
- The Pioneer-class Station will be our first free-flying space craft and accommodate up to 54 people. This hybrid-gravity space station, used for commercial operations, is designed for variable artificial gravity operation, providing the opportunity for long term habitation.
At Orbital Matter, we aim at becoming the first construction company in space. We are working on a 3D Printing technology to be used directly in orbit, on the Moon and on Mars to manufacture large elements of space infrastructure e.g., walls for space stations, moon habitats and SBSP reflectors. Our early stage product is a deployable system for satellites up to 20x more efficient than existing solutions.
Planetoid Mines is a privately owned mineral extraction services company who has patented a novel In-Situ Mining and In-Situ Resouce Utilization technology for terrestrial and off-world excavation operations.
Planetoid Mines mission is to engineer and manufacture the latest aerospace propulsion technology and attach it to an asteroid capturing platform to redirect the asteroid back to Earth’s cislunar orbit for the extraction of raw materials used in the manufacturing of spaceports and spacecraft.
Primary focus is developing the core components of asteroid mining. Many of their instruments and tools will be compatible with mining applications on the lunar surface and on Earth. Planetoid Mines intends to have their first lunar prospecting rover ready to launch and land near the lunar south pole in 2022. They are developing their own powered descent and landing vehicle and have not yet announced a launch provider.
The first complete "in-situ resource utilization" technology on the market. Our self-contained system provides end-to-end continuous mining operations with multiple excavator heads, mineral concentration through beneficiation, a pyrometallurgy oven and thermal printing head. Using lunar surface minerals the system can print landing pads, extrude fused quartz rods, large antenna arrays, etc. ISRU platform designed to fit most lunar landers.
Planetoid Mines is introducing our Lunar Mining and Manufacturing Rover. Submitted to NASA's Break the Ice Challenge. Continuously excavates 190 kg/m of regolith producing 7.42 kg/m water and icy regolith producing 18.5 kg/m water. "Benny and the Jets" concentrates 25.9 kg/m of Iron particles and 7.4 kg/m Titanium. 20.3 kg/m of CaO is calcinated to limestone. 83 kg/m of SiO2 is further refined to semi-conductor grade.
New focus on our lead in the Cislunar Ecosystem for Space Logistics and Lunar Infrastructure, including four core areas (Cislunar Space Logistics, Lunar Data Center Network, Robotics + AI, and Lunar Facilities) that we will inherently develop on our path to fielding the first lunar facility.
Raven's patent-pending in-situ curing direct ink write technology enables 3D printing of high performance thermoset composites. This unique approach will unlock high-cadence return to advance the low Earth orbit economy.
- Specimen return
- In-space manufacturing
- Microgravity experimentation
- Space station resupply & return
- Rapid global delivery of supplies
- AMF is our flagship technology onboard the ISS and its versatility and durability have made it a reliable resource for government and commercial customers since its activation in 2016.
- It has produced over 200 tools, assets, and parts in orbit. AMF’s legacy has been the foundation for our technology roadmap and manufacturing programs as Made In Space develops new capabilities that will leverage additive manufacturing in space for unprecedented applications.
- RRP is a technology demonstration mission, developed in partnership with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
- The mission will demonstrate autonomous, on-orbit 3D printing with regolith feedstock material using Redwire’s Additive Manufacturing Facility currently aboard the ISS.
- Redwire will launch three custom-design 3D printing heads and three print bed surfaces on NG-16 to support RRP’s on-orbit operations.
The OSAM-2 mission will demonstrate in-space manufacturing capabilities that could revolutionize the space infrastructure landscape in low-Earth orbit and beyond.” The CDR marks the end of the design phase for the On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing 2 (OSAM-2) mission and the beginning of the process of building and verifying flight hardware.
- OSAM-2, also known as Archinaut One, is a $73.7 million contract between Redwire and NASA signed in 2019. OSAM-2 is a technology demonstration mission funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and is scheduled to launch no earlier than 2023.
- Redwire’s Trailblazing OSAM-2 Mission Passes Critical NASA Milestone.
Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) proposes the construction of large baseline structures, 15 meters or greater, for infrared space interferometry missions by autonomous in-space manufacturing and assembly. This enables the deployment of large primary trusses unconstrained by launch load or volume restrictions that meet science requirements for the high angular resolutions (less than 0.3 arcseconds) necessary to detect planets near bright stars and measure individual objects in star clusters.
In this Phase I effort, MIS investigates the mass, performance, and mission planning benefits of in-space manufacturing for structurally-connected interferometers (SCI). MIS is the leading developer of manufacturing technologies in the space environment. Utilizing technologies derived from Archinaut, a NASA Tipping Point 2015 award winner, large infrastructure can be manufactured on orbit and enable a multitude of missions.
Optimast is a self-contained, scalable machine for producing microgravity-optimized linear structures on-orbit, developed as a product application of the Archinaut technologies. MIS has developed Optimast to a TRL-6 with successful thermal vacuum testing of extended structure manufacturing in 2017.
We believe in a future where interplanetary life fundamentally expands the possibilities for human experience. In realizing this audacious vision, our long-term goal is to upgrade humanity’s industrial base on Earth and on Mars.
“We want to lead and work on building humanity’s industrial base on Mars,” Ellis said. “That really stems from the 3D-printing technology, which which we can actually start [delivering to Mars] by launching smaller pieces.”
- His goal is similar to Elon Musk’s with SpaceX, although Relativity isn’t focused on launching people. Instead, Ellis sees Relativity helping build on Mars by initially sending a small 3D-printer for “the first object manufactured on another planet by humanity,” which is “the future that we’re going towards.”
- To Ellis, additive manufacturing is “inevitably required to build an industrial base on Mars.
Relativity Space submitted a proposal for NASA's Commercial Space Station CLD Program. The company had not disclosed plans for a commercial space station and the source selection statement offers few details beyond a “reusable and returnable lab with a return capability.” Tim Ellis, chief executive of Relativity, told SpaceNews Jan. 31 that the company has a “very early concept” on how the upper stage of its Terran R vehicle could be used as a commercial LEO destination, but declined to go into details.
Launch vehicle startup Relativity Space and in-space transportation company Impulse Space jointly announced July 19 they are working on a robotic Mars lander they anticipate launching as soon as the late 2024 window for missions from Earth to Mars. Impulse would be responsible for building the lander itself as well as the cruise stage and entry capsule. Relativity would launch the spacecraft on the Terran R reusable rocket it is developing.
- The mirror would be installed, in orbit, into a telescope that would be used to detect hypersonic vehicles.
- Lunar Resources is an in-space manufacturing company that helped RSA develop the concept for how to construct a very large EO/IR mirror in space. O
- ne of the payloads would “spray paint” the optical coatings needed to make the EO/IR mirror on a small satellite dubbed Ruby Sky.
- At the Space Pitch Day event, the Air Force awarded Lunar Resources a $750,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 contract, with RSA as a subcontractor, to get the project moving.
The RUBY SKY initiative is a ground-breaking, first-of-its-kind project designed to aid the United States and its allies in the detection of “hypersonics,” as near-peer competitors move rapidly toward the development and deployment of hypersonic missile capabilities. Hypersonics represent one of the greatest strategic threats facing the U.S. and its Five Eyes, NATO and Pacific-region partners, and the U.S. defense and intelligence establishments have lauded RSA’s RUBY SKY as a viable, efficient and holistic solution to this looming international challenge.
**The RUBY SKY project functionally and completely envisions a holistic solution to the hypersonic threat, starting with an innovative space-based optical manufacturing process, combined with origami-like structures to detect hypersonic vehicles within a small-satellite form factor. **
The aim of RUBY SKY is to cast the brightest of ‘spotlights’ over vulnerable global spots, including near-peer competitor launch areas that are otherwise dark. In time, the greatest advantage of the RUBY SKY project will be to completely nullify any strategic advantage provided to U.S. near-peer competitors by hypersonic vehicles.
JAM is a plug-and-play satellite subcomponent enabling onboard autonomous navigation of any size spacecraft. JAM significantly decreases the cost, labor, and frequency of communications for maneuvering in cislunar space by removing the need for two-way ranging. JAM enables scalability of satellite constellations in cislunar space by reducing the required labor by 80% and provides the ability to operate satellites in GPS denied environments.
JAM is based on a proprietary deep space navigation algorithm that enabled NASA's Deep Impact mission to autonomously steer a projectile into a comet at a speed of 22,000 mph, resulting in an explosion equivalent to 4.8 tons of TNT. This innovative navigational technology is named after the late scholar and geographic engineer Major Thomas Best Jervis, who led the establishment of the U.K.'s Department of Topography and Statistics in 1855, which eventually became the first government-established Intelligence Branch.
RSA is providing a gateway to Lunar Intelligence (LUNINT), and to understanding what is happening, and what will soon happen, in cislunar space. RSA is the world's singular trailblazer in the field of LUNINT – a new intelligence field our scientists are defining based on aspirational requirements and parameters provided by the U.S. intelligence community and trusted Five Eyes partners.
RSA leads the way in defining the hundreds of thousands of miles of open space between the surface of the Earth and the Moon. And, RSA is advancing overall abilities to provide monitoring and analysis of activity on the Moon, as well as the trajectories, and even the intentions, of near-peer competitor spacecraft to benefit U.S. national security, the safety of lanes of space travel between the Earth and the Moon, and the integrity of the Moon’s surface. LUNINT is a superset.
Skycorp Inc. (Santa Clara, California) is building the Orbital Logistics Vehicle (OLV). This is the world’s first fully reusable spacecraft, through propulsion system “reprovisioning” which eliminates refueling and the ability to easily swap out payloads as customer needs and markets change. The OLV’s operational range is the inner solar system and its diverse payloads include RF, Optical, tug, and robotic servicing.
The Skycorp Orbital Logistics Vehicle ushers in a new age in satellite architecture. A space platform with a common interface bus allows customized payloads from third parties to be hosted in space. The OLV does for satellites what Open Compute did for data center design.
The Orbital Logistics Vehicle is launched in a protective container and assembled on-orbit at the International Space Station. This enables a lighter weight design while still protecting it from launch loads.
Skycorp Incorporated is pleased to announce the launch of the “intelligent Space Systems Interface Flight Qualification Experiment (iSSIFQE)” as part of the Northrop Grumman’s 17th Commercial Resupply Services mission to the orbiting laboratory, contracted by NASA. This payload is a flight qualification of the intelligent Space System Interface (iSSI) robotic data and power transfer connector, built by iBOSS GmbH of Aachen Germany. This connector can transfer up to 5 kilowatts of power, 1,000 BaseT Ethernet, and medium data rate CANBus serial data.
We develop systems and payloads for the International Space Station (ISS), on-orbit servicing and lunar destinations. We also develop robotic and rover systems, complete ground segment solutions, control centres, while providing operations and astronaut training services. Through our ICE Cubes service, our customers can have access to the ISS; and in the near future to commercial Low Earth Orbit stations in development.
Develop products based on tether technologies, including solutions for cleaning up space debris and transporting people and payloads through space. Tethers Unlimited’s mission is to build a robust in-space economy that will serve the people of Earth and enable humanity to become a spacefaring society.
Tethers Unlimited is developing a number of new technologies, including a satellite servicer called LEO Knight, a passive deorbit system called Terminator Tape, and HyperBus, an in-space manufacturing platform.
Building upon its successes developing high-performance component technologies to power the SmallSat revolution, TUI is now developing key technologies to enable a range of in-space services, including: in-space servicing and refueling of satellites, in-space manufacturing of satellite components, in-space assembly of space systems, and in-space networking to support advanced space missions.
Demonstrate in-space recycling and manufacturing to support long-duration manned space missions.
Payload called the Refabricator™ combines a plastic recycling system with a 3D printer to enable astronauts to recycle plastic waste into high-quality 3D printer filament, and then use that filament to fabricate new parts, medical implements, food utensils, and other items that the astronauts need to maintain their spacecraft and perform their missions.
Developing a suite of technologies called "SpiderFab" to enable on-orbit fabrication of large spacecraft components such as antennas, solar panels, trusses, and other multifunctional structures. This includes Trusselator to create lengthy carbon composite structures and OrbWeaver to create satellite antenna.
Introducing our highly functional KRAKEN® robotic arm, we bring the space economy and industry together. Building the infrastructure needed to support a robust and sustainable in-space economy will require advanced and affordable robotic tools.
TUI has developed the KRAKEN robotic arm to provide the space industry with a compact, high-performance, and cost-effective manipulator to enable small spacecraft to perform in-space assembly, manufacturing, and servicing missions.
The standard KRAKEN configuration is a 1 m, 7 degree-of-freedom arm that can stow in a 19cm x 27cm x 36cm volume, but KRAKEN has a modular design that can be configured to optimize it for your mission application. It integrates a hot-swappable end-effector interface that enables the arm to use a variety of tools. With high speed force sensing in each joint, and an embedded controller supporting force control capabilities, KRAKEN is uniquely capable of supporting the next generation of small robotic spacecraft which is hard to find in many robotic arms.
At TUI we value your passion and want to sustain you with the best in-space servicing you will find. Building the infrastructure needed to support a robust and sustainable in-space economy will require robotic systems able to assemble space systems, fix malfunctioning spacecraft, refuel satellites, and deliver cargo from one orbit to another. To meet these needs, TUI is developing the LEO Knight, a microsat-class spacecraft that integrates TUI’s KRAKEN robotic arm along with servicing tools and refueling components. LEO Knight will provide the capability to assemble ESPA-class modules together to form persistent space platforms, capture space debris and transport it to recycling hubs, and refuel and repair small satellites.
TUI is developing technical solutions to enable sustainable in-space manufacturing to support long duration manned missions and the creation of the infrastructure needed for exploration and settlement of our solar system. TUI’s work is addressing the full spectrum of the ‘in-space supply chain’, from how we obtain materials in space, to how we transform those materials into things of value, to how we use components manufactured in space to deliver new services to customers in space and on Earth with in-space manufacturing.
To lower the cost of obtaining material for manufacturing in space, TUI is developing ways to recycle ‘space trash’, such as plastic and metal waste aboard the ISS or pieces of spent rockets, to create feedstock for additive and subtractive manufacturing. In 2018, TUI installed a payload called the “Refabricator” aboard the ISS to demonstrate close-cycle recycling and 3D printing of plastic parts, and it is currently working to develop metal recycling and manufacturing technologies for NASA’s “FabLab” system for in-situ precision manufacturing of mission-critical parts.
To enable creation of antennas, solar arrays, and telescopes that are larger than can be fit into a rocket, TUI is currently preparing a flight experiment called “MakerSat”, which will demonstrate in-space manufacture of very large composite structures. Essentially, MakerSat will manufacture carbon-fiber 2-by-4’s that in the future can be used to assemble very large structures to support antennas, solar sails, solar arrays, or even habitats.
To enable development of the next-generation of space systems supporting DoD, NASA, and commercial enterprises, TUI is developing capabilities for in-space assembly of modular space systems. Key technologies in development, including the KRAKEN® robotic arm, AXON™ connector, and DACTYLUS servicing tool, will enable small robotic systems to assemble large space systems, such as telescopes, communications satellites, and even space stations, out of smaller components that can be launched affordably and responsively by taking advantage of small launch vehicles and secondary payload ride opportunities. In-space assembly will enable creation of space systems offering dramatically higher resolution, bandwidth, sensitivity, and power, all at lower cost than traditional ground-built satellite systems.
As the space economy grows, the need for continual, high-throughput data networking will become increasingly important. TUI is building upon its industry-leading SWIFT software defined radio technology to create new capabilities to support networked satellite communications. Among these is SWIFT-LINQ, an IP-based mesh networking solution that enables multiple satellites to easily and rapidly exchange data, providing transformative capabilities for coordinated operations, data relays, and distributed data processing.
According to the Washington D.C.-based company, UAM allows for 3D printing metals in space with very low energy, relatively low pressure, low temperatures, and the flexibility to print a myriad of different metals and metal combinations.
The ideal end-product is a UAM ultrasonic weld head that incorporates metal material feed through while on a robotic arm. If everything goes according to plan, the technology might provide off-Earth repairs at 97% of original material properties.
NASA researchers are searching for autonomous in-space welding capabilities that could enable on-orbit servicing, assembly, and manufacturing needed for longer space missions such as a lunar or Martian base.
The goal of this program is to demonstrate the use of Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM) for the repair of a damaged structure or to build a new structure. UAM allows for 3D printing metals in space with very low energy, relatively low pressure, low temperatures, and the flexibility to print a myriad of different metals and metal combinations. The ultimately envisioned end-product is a UAM ultrasonic weld head that incorporates metal material feed through while on a robotic arm. This will provide off earth repairs at 97% of original material properties.
ThinkOrbital delivers a large, scalable and cost-efficient space structure for the New Space economy. Our ThinkPlatforms are based on mature technologies available today, configured for single-launch, autonomous assembly in-orbit, re-imagining opportunities for satellite servicing, space debris processing, in-space manufacturing, on-orbit storage, refuelling, space tourism and research.
Accelerating commercialisation of cis-lunar Space. Our mission is to develop the technologies for assembly of large pressure vessels in space and apply these technologies to build large and scalable space stations.
Proposals from three relatively unknown companies — Maverick Space Systems, Orbital Assembly Company and ThinkOrbital — received “red” scores for both technical and business, while a fourth, Space Villages, received a red technical score and a yellow business score.
Our vision for the NewSpace ecosystem involves a network of our Orb2 serving as a versatile space platform for OSAM technologies over many orbits. We're actively engaging partners in areas of refueling, manufacturing in space, recycling and other operators that may benefit from our large storing and processing facilities in space.
The company’s spherical habitat, called ThinkPlatform, would be assembled in space using a robotic arm. Rosen said it could operate as a component of a larger commercial station or docked with a space vehicle like SpaceX’s Starship. He said the future of in-space manufacturing remains unclear but could gain momentum when commercial companies start deploying space stations in LEO. The expectation is that high-speed computer chips, fiber optics or pharmaceutical products will be manufactured in space, “but the reason why in-space manufacturing doesn’t exist on a large scale is because there’s nowhere to do it. They just don’t have the room on the International Space Station to do all of the things that could be done.”
ThinkOrbital announces it has been selected by SpaceWERX for a STTR Phase I in the amount of US$ 250,000 to investigate how it’s Orbital Platform Unified System for On-Orbit Service and Assembly (OPUS-OSA) can enable In-space Service Assembly and Manufacturing (ISAM) capabilities being explored by the Department of the Air Force (DAF) and United States Space Force (USSF) through the Orbital Prime program. The OPUS-OSA platform is a collaboration between ThinkOrbital, Redwire Space and Thunderbird Global School of Management (part of Arizona State University).
Our mission is to build a large self-sustaining facility that will house hundreds of people and to start construction by 2026. United Space Structures (USS) has developed a unique construction process for building very large permanent structures within lunar lava tubes. The advantage of building within lava tubes is that the lava tube provides protection from radiation and meteor strikes and so the habitat structure does not require to be hardened from these elements. The structures only need to create an atmospheric structurally stable enclosure that is thermally insulated.
A robotics company for manufacturing and construction in space using 3D printing/additive manufacturing.
Earthly Solution Risk
Low as they will stay in space and deployables and fairing sizes have limits.