Another big milestone for humans in space: astronauts on board the ISS set up a commercial 3D printer, for a tryout in orbit.
The printer was developed by Made in Space under a contract with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), and is "part of a technology demonstration intended to show that on-site, on-demand manufacturing is a viable alternative to launching items from Earth."
From SpaceFlight Now's Stephen Clark:
Astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore unpacked the 3D printer from its launch packaging and put it inside a safety housing in the space station's Destiny laboratory module, according to Made in Space, Inc., the Silicon Valley startup which built the printer.
"This is a very exciting day for me and the rest of the team. We had to conquer many technical challenges to get the 3D printer to this stage," said Mike Snyder, Made in Space's director of research and development, in an update posted to the company's website.
Developed in a public-private partnership between NASA and Made in Space, the 3D printer launched Sept. 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It arrived at the space station two days later aboard a Dragon supply ship.
"This experiment has been an advantageous first stepping stone to the future ability to manufacture a large portion of materials and equipment in space that has been traditionally launched from Earth surface, which will completely change our methods of exploration," Snyder said in Monday's online update.