In a recent announcement, NASA stated that they’re funding a 3D printing company from California to find a way and turn asteroids into autonomous spacecraft. Imagine asteroids that can fly to outposts in space. Come to think of it, it’s not that weird, and it could be the beginning of space colonization.
The company is called Made In Space, and their project is called Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata, or RAMA. They want to use 3D printing to make asteroids become self-flying vehicles. And all of that is planned to be finished by 2030.
NASA Could ‘Drive’ Asteroids in the Future
The project was funded by NASA through the Innovative Advanced Concepts programme, receiving $100,000 for feasibility studies. The co-founder and chief technology officer, Jason Dunn, explains their theory:
“Today, we have the ability to bring resources from Earth. But when we get to a tipping point where we need the resources in space, then the question becomes, ‘Where do they come from and how do we get them, and how do we deliver them to the location that we need?’ This is a way to do it.”
The company will have an advanced robotic “Seed Craft” fly and meet with some asteroids close to Earth as part of their project. The Seed Craft will gather material from the asteroids and use it to create a series of systems like propulsion, navigation, energy-storage through 3D printing and different technologies.
The asteroids that are turned into autonomous spacecraft can be flown to get to a mining station or where it is needed. The report says this approach is more efficient than launching probes to explore resources on each asteroid.
Project RAMA is in the early stage, Dunn estimating that it might take them two decades until they launch the first Seed Craft. However, Dunn explained that there could be applications of Seed Craft on Earth:
“You could build infrastructure in remote locations somewhat autonomously, and convert resources into useful devices and mechanical machines. This actually could solve some pretty big problems on Earth, from housing to construction of things that make people’s lives better.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.