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The commercial 3D printer aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is about to get a bit more sustainable.
California-based company Made In Space is set to launch its Plastic Recycler toward the orbiting lab next Saturday (Nov. 2) aboard Northrop Grumman's robotic Cygnus cargo spacecraft. The recycler will process waste plastic into feedstock for Made In Space's Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF), a 3D printer that's available for commercial use.
Recycler - Plastic - Sustainability - Life - Cycle
"The Recycler will complete the plastic sustainability life cycle on orbit by providing astronauts the ability to convert plastic packaging and trash as well as objects previously fabricated by the 3D printer into feedstock to be reused by the printer," Made In Space representatives wrote in a description of the machine.
"The invention will improve the autonomy and sustainability of long-duration space missions, while also helping to reduce the cost and weight of payloads carried from Earth," the representatives added.
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Made In Space first launched a 3D printer to the ISS in 2014, as part of a partnership with NASA. The space agency is now in charge of that pioneering machine, but Made In Space retained ownership of the AMF, which reached orbit in 2016.
Company - Fiber - ZBLAN - ISS - Multiple
The company has also manufactured the valuable optical fiber ZBLAN aboard the ISS multiple times using a microwave-size machine that has gone up and down aboard SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule. ZBLAN has the potential to be far superior to traditional silica-based optical fiber but is difficult to produce on Earth, Made In Space representatives have said. The company believes that making ZBLAN in orbit could help kick-start the off-Earth manufacturing economy.
The early ZBLAN results have...
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Measuring his life out one teaspoon at a time.