NASA has awarded more than $10 million in development contracts to three companies, including one in Indiana. Greenville-based Techshot Inc. will work to develop a space-based, on-demand fabrication lab prototype.
Techshot says the prototype, known as a FabLab, is a complete in-space manufacturing system. NASA issued a request for proposals for prototypes earlier this year. At that time, Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division, said the FabLab is an extension of in-space manufacturing following the success of the 3-D printing of plastics on the International Space Station.
Crusan said the goal is to increase the number of materials that could be used to manufacture items on demand in space.
"NASA is challenging industry partners to expand possibilities for making, repairing and recycling items in space," said Niki Werkheiser, lead for in-space manufacturing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. "The FabLab prototypes will provide valuable insights and help lay the foundation for meaningful on-demand manufacturing capabilities needed for sustainable human spaceflight missions."
California-based Interlog Corp. and Washington-based Tethers Unlimited Inc. are the other two contract recipients. The companies will have 18 months to deliver their prototypes. NASA says it will then select partners to "further mature the technologies."
The contracts are part of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, or NextSTEP, program.