NASA’s Orion crew capsule will feature special 3D-printed parts, according to the space agency. The printing technology will be used for more than 100 components, each made out of a special new material capable of handling the extremes of deep space. Orion is part of NASA’s mission to take humans farther into space than ever before.
The material used to 3D print the parts was developed by Lockheed Martin, PADT, and Stratasys, according to Reuters; it is designed to handle both the chemical exposure and extreme temps found in deep space, protecting the humans inside.
In a statement to the publication, Stratasys VP of manufacturing solutions Scott Sevcik explained that static electricity is one concern the material must protect against. “In space, for instance,” says Sevcik, “materials will build up a charge. If that was to shock the electronics on a space craft there could be significant damage.”
According to NASA‘s website, the Orion crew capsule will be able to sustain astronauts during deep-space missions, ultimately bringing them back to Earth. The capsule’s first mission called Exploration Mission-1 will happen sometime in the early 2020s and involve traveling thousands of miles over three weeks.
As far the 3D printed parts are concerned, Lockheed Martin anticipates applying the tech across other aspects of its business, including things like space probes and missiles. Such technology could one day be used to print new components and tools while stationed on other planets or celestial bodies.