NASA and its partner Tethers Unlimited are working on 3D printing. Their plan: construct a spacecraft of tomorrow with multi-armed robotic, 3D printing spiders.
Called SpiderFab, they are designed to maneuver through space and printing a number of polymers and materials. Its bots cut construction costs for NASA and because its constructing outside the pull of gravity, it will allow for much larger instruments to be built.
CEO of Tethers Unlimited, Rob Hoyt sounds almost as exited as we are about the prospects of constructing bigger, better spacecraft in orbit:
“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."
While SpiderFab is not quite ready to be deployed, he's confident that it'll be a reality soon:
“Once we’ve demonstrated that it works, we will be well on our way towards creating football-field sized antennas and telescopes to help search for Earth-like exoplanets and evidence of extraterrestrial life."
So building spaceships in space? That's the future. Tethers Unlimited
, via GigaOM