Made In Space has some highly innovative ideas about 3D printing and space. There latest project is one of the best ones they have come up with. The California based company recently received some extra funding from NASA to explore the possibilities for using 3D printing and other relevant technologies for transforming asteroids into a self-driving spacecraft. The project has been named as RAMA which means Reconstituting Asteroids Into Mechanical Automata” and it starts working from that point from where Made In Space has iterated a “Seed Craft” in form of a near-earth asteroid. In space, the machine would extract materials from the asteroid and use them as source of energy for 3D printing and several other important technologies. These will together construct the equipment required for turning space rock into a primitive style spacecraft.
As the Seed Craft would use such fabrication technologies for creation of energy storage, autonomous navigation, and propulsion of the system, the asteroid will be turned a space craft that can travel to the nearest mining station in the most gravitationally stable Lagrange Points of space. The basic intent is that it would help in bringing the asteroid to the mining site in a much smoother manner in the Earth-Moon L5 Lagrange point than to move to the asteroids and mine it over there.
Made In Space has received funding for Phase 1 under NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program. It means the company will need to make serious effort to reach the other end of this journey. If they are successful it will lead to a successful formulation of RAMA based technology. The asteroid spacecraft formed from this technique wouldn’t be a very perfect one from all ends like the regular ships. The company plans to use some very simple mechanical systems that will help in propulsion and would remove the rocks from the asteroid’s surface and help it in reaching its destination.
It is a very long shot and the company plans to bring it on floors somewhere around 2030. It is a pretty long time that will give ample opportunity to Made In Space to explore all options.