Watch The First 3D-Printed Satellite Launcher Work On The Space Station [VIDEO]

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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The engineering company Mouser Electronics published video of a satellite launcher being 3-D printed on the International Space Station (ISS) Wednesday.

Engineer Andy Filo designed a device to help astronauts launch tiny satellites weighing less than 100 grams in zero gravity. Scientists can use these satellites to monitor disasters, cosmic rays and solar coronal events.


Filo developed the device as part of a design challenge to develop useful technology for astronauts.

“Mouser brought together engineers, students and makers from around the world in this exciting design challenge. All the designs were excellent, but in the end there was one design that stood above the rest,” Glenn Smith, President and CEO of Mouser Electronics, said in a statement. “The heart of this challenge was ‘innovation,’ and Andy’s femtosatellite-launching device embodies forward-thinking design.”

Mouser chose Filo’s femtosatellite project from 242 entries, and then digitally-transmitted it to the ISS. The world’s first off-world commercial manufacturing printer 3-D printed the design in April.

The ISS’ 3-D printer manufactured its first objects in space in November 2014. It works by building layers of heated plastic to create objects, effectively making a working “machine shop” capable of building virtually any tool in space. Engineers on the ground can transmit design files for any tool to the printer.

This capability decreases the cost and difficulty of sending tools to the ISS. It can take months or even years to ship specialty tools to the space station depending on the launch resupply schedule. Future deep space exploration missions will almost certainly carry similar printers as resupplying tools from Earth may be impossible.

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