Manufacturing

man·u·fac·ture:  man(y)əˈfak(t)SHər/   noun
The making of articles on a large scale using machinery

 
Creating machines, habitats and giant structures from space resources will open a new era in exploration and settlement of the solar system. No longer will every aspiration in space require a hugely expensive launch from the Earth’s surface.

Manufacturing in microgravity (the technical term for “zero” gravity) and hard vacuum offers both opportunities and challenges. The upside of making things in space includes the ability to create very large structures that would never fit into the confines of a launch vehicle’s payload fairing. Huge solar arrays to produce energy and enormous antenna to enhance communications satellites are among the possibilities.

Mission Objectives:

Vacuum and microgravity support processes that deposit individual atoms or molecules into precise patterns (epitaxial vapor deposition and other technologies). The absence of atmosphere keeps metal-forming processes free from oxygen, so that nearly 100 percent pure iron can be easily produced; free from impurities, it is stronger than terrestrial iron and can hold water indefinitely without rusting.

Mission Specifications:

Deep Space Industries has a patent pending on a new additive manufacturing technology that works with or without gravity. This MicroGravity Foundry (MGF) uses a gas to extract nickel directly from the nickel-iron ore that is common in asteroids, and deposits it into 3D shapes. The process works well below nickel’s melting point, saving energy and enabling non-nickel parts (such as plastic) to be included as the shape is built.

Mission Spacecraft:

Manufacturing equipment systems will incorporate variations of the MGF technology most suited for the task at hand. Building on DSI’s ecosystem of interchangeable, modular systems, custom processing and manufacturing systems will be combined to produce specific structures such as solar collectors, radio antenna or habitats.

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