Made in Space Wins In-Space Manufacturing NASA Contract
NASA awarded a $73.7 million contract to Made In Space to demonstrate the ability of a small spacecraft, called Archinaut One, to manufacture and assemble spacecraft components in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The in-space robotic manufacturing and assembly technologies could be important for America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.
Archinaut One is expected to launch on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from New Zealand no earlier than 2022. Once it’s positioned in low-Earth orbit, the spacecraft will 3D-print two beams that extend 32 feet (10 meters) out from each side of the spacecraft. As manufacturing progresses, each beam will unfurl two solar arrays that generate as much as five times more power than traditional solar panels on spacecraft of similar size. The Archinaut team includes Made In Space, Northrop Grumman, Ames, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“In-space robotic manufacturing and assembly are unquestionable game-changers and fundamental capabilities for future space exploration,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “By taking the lead in the development of this transformative technology, the United States will maintain its leadership in space exploration as we push forward with astronauts to the Moon and then on to Mars.”