3D printing… in space!

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Oh my gosh, I feel like every other story in the news is about 3D printing. Some of the craziest ones include wild tales about printing body parts and reading minds! Even NASA announced they were researching ways to print pizza for astronauts in space! Now, NASA is planning on sending a 3D printer to the International Space Station (ISS).

Just in case you were wondering, the ISS is a station in space that serves as a laboratory, observatory, and factory shared by America, Russia, Japan, Canada, and Europe! The station gets really busy, and there are times it needs extra supplies or repairs. Unlike here on Earth, the astronauts can’t just run to a hardware store for materials. They have to get everything shipped up into space! The 3D printer will produce many of the materials astronauts need to keep the station running. “3D printing provides us the ability to do our own Star Trek replication right there on the spot,” said NASA astronaut Timothy Creamer. “[The printer would] help us replace things we’ve lost, replace things we’ve broken, or maybe make things that we’ve thought of that would be useful.”

The company responsible for this 3D printer, Made in Space, believes their machine will prove vital in repairing the station or creating lost parts. “The 3D printing experiment with NASA is a step towards the future,” said Made In Space CEO, Aaron Kemmer.

NASA hopes to send the printer into space in June of 2014 with the next shipment from SpaceX, a private company that takes materials into space.