Although 3D printing is certainly carving out a huge place in manufacturing, research and development—and history–there are many who still don’t really understand what it does, outside of allowing for tricked out iPhone cases and egg holders. If that’s where you want to go with the technology, more power to you. We all have to start experimenting somewhere, and there’s lots of fun to be had with a multitude of designs.
To make an impression on people, however, as to the absolute magnitude of what 3D printing is doing for the world, let’s just take a look at how it’s affecting us even further, with space research—and future travel–today. If NASA wants to put untold sums into 3D printed rocket thrusters, spacesuits, crucial supporting components, and more, it’s safe to assume that we are in for quite a ride as the technology continues to evolve—and serve our many ambitions as a collective whole.
And if that’s not convincing enough for the skeptical newcomer to 3D printing, they might be quite fascinated to know that Russia is well in on the action too; in fact, they’ve just announced that they are now making history themselves as they send the world’s first 3D printed CubeSat nanosatellite to the International Space Station later this month.
“The TPU probe, to be orbited from the ISS, was assembled and handed over to the Space Rocket Corporation Energiya for delivery to the Baikonur space launch center,” the TPU press service said.
“This is the first 3D-printed space probe ever built. Further advancement of this technology will eventually enable the mass-scale production of such small satellites,” the press release added.
This news comes from Moscow, reported by RIA Novosti, who cited Tomsk Polytechnic University for the release. These sources say that the nanosatellite is built from Roscosmos-approved materials, and the 3D printed CubeSat is working to protect another first–a zirconium-ceramic battery. With the threat of destructive temperature fluctuations, numerous sensors will be employed to constantly measure the temperatures of chipboards and batteries, as well as monitoring the electric components onboard.
On March 31, the nanosatellite is scheduled to be ferried by a Progress MS-2 rocket to the ISS. From there, it will be put into a 400 kilometer orbit by the ISS crew during a spacewalk. The 300mm X 100mm X 100mm cube, which will hold everything required of the research satellite, will then be in orbit for six months.
All of the data will be sent back to scientists who will analyze the data, and the mission itself, to see if these materials are indeed suitable for additional probes into space coming up. It is expected that the CubeSat itself will be undergoing ‘dramatic expansion’ as time goes on. Discuss this new development in the 3D Printed Russian CubeSat forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source: Space Daily]