Last month, NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine visited Made In Space’s Moffett Field facility, located on the campus of NASA Ames Research Center. Bridenstine’s visit followed the recent announcement of the Archinaut One mission–a flight demonstration mission, awarded through NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate, that will see MIS technology develop the first self-assembling satellite on orbit. During the visit, Made In Space President & CEO, Andrew Rush highlighted the breadth of the company’s technology portfolio that aims to develop manufacturing capabilities to support future exploration missions as well as catalyze the economy in low Earth orbit.
During the tour, Archinaut One satellite technology and its core manufacturing and assembly subsystems were on display. The presence of these transformative new technologies sitting in the shadow of the company’s first zero-gravity printer and subsequent commercial 3D printer, AMF, was a subtle reminder of the rapid progress that has been made over the last five years. Made In Space has led the charge in developing advanced in-space manufacturing systems and that progress has not gone unnoticed. During his closing remarks, Bridenstine highlighted several key points on the value of in-space manufacturing and how technologies like Archinaut One will enable future exploration missions, like Moon to Mars, to be executed safely, efficiently and cost-effectively.
Bridenstine referred to in-space manufacturing as an “absolute game-changer” for the agency which underscores the long-term value of Archinaut technology–creating space-optimized structures and assemblies on orbit. In space manufacturing technology, such as capabilities represented in the Archinaut One flight demonstration allows the entire industry to circumvent the design constraints and volume limits imposed by the launch environment. This opens the door to a multitude of space-optimized complex structures ranging from expansive antenna and large apertures to advanced, large-scale space telescopes.
NASA’s exploration roadmap for Moon to Mars will employ new platforms like Gateway and others that will benefit from in-space manufacturing capabilities. Additionally, future exploration missions will rely on local manufacturing capabilities in order to maximize in-situ resource utilization. Through this lens, Bridenstine commented that in space manufacturing allows NASA to “optimize what we’re trying to achieve.”
Building infrastructure off the planet without having to launch critical components is crucial when looking at NASA’s exploration goals. NASA’s partnership with MIS has benefited the agency by delivering unprecedented, capabilities quickly. Within five years, MIS, in partnership with NASA, progressed from launching industrial 3D printers to the International Space Station to developing a self-assembling satellite.
As echoed during Bridenstine’s visit, the potential of Archinaut technology and near-term applications could yield a big impact on NASA’s exploration goals and transform capabilities across the entire industry.