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ISS Space Transportation

SpaceX Launches Supplies to ISS, Including Its First 3D Printer 129

A "flawless" launch early Sunday from Cape Canaveral has sent a load of supplies on its way to the International Space Station aboard a Falcon 9-lofted SpaceX Dragon capsule. Food, care packages and provisions for NASA's astronauts make up more than a third of the cargo onboard Dragon. But the spacecraft also has experiments and equipment that will eventually help scientists complete 255 research projects in total, according to NASA. In Dragon's trunk, there's an instrument dubbed RapidScat, which will be installed outside the space station to measure the speed and direction of ocean winds on Earth. Among the commercially funded experiments onboard Dragon is a materials-science test from the sports company Cobra Puma Golf designed to build a stronger golf club. Dragon is also hauling the first space-grade 3D printer, built by Made in Space, which will test whether the on-the-spot manufacturing technology is viable without gravity.
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SpaceX Launches Supplies to ISS, Including Its First 3D Printer

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  • on youtube (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TH5EErE8QnI

  • by Anonymous Coward

    To people (Boing, et al) who couldn't launch a rocket of their own if they dropped it on a trampoline, and SpaceX casually brushes them aside with a fraction of the money and a homebrewed design?

    No cronyism in that decision at all. Absolutely none.

  • by Whiternoise ( 1408981 ) on Sunday September 21, 2014 @11:52AM (#47959037)
    Someone needs to update from 8-bit mission plans!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      They neglected a bit.

  • by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Sunday September 21, 2014 @11:54AM (#47959045)

    http://www.space.com/27211-made-in-space-3d-printer.html/ [space.com]

    It's ABS, and quite small. It's more for testing than anything else, but they say they intend to print functional items rather than just toys.

    • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Sunday September 21, 2014 @12:02PM (#47959065)

      3D printing is one of those things that will be pretty much essential for successful manned missions farther away than the moon.

      Being unable to fix broken things will be fatal if the nearest spare parts are nine months away, and a 3D printer or two can, conceivably, replace a great many individual spare parts....

      • by mrxak ( 727974 )

        Or build those parts to begin with. Especially when we start colonizing outside our solar system, being able to pack solid containers of materials as densely as possible and then building everything when we get there, is going to be critical to keeping weight down by nature of requiring less packaging. A big cube of metal is a lot cheaper to ship than several large metal machines.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Anyone who saw the Big Bang Theory episode with the space toilet that was going to fail in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... because of a badly designed part will definitely want one of these around before going into orbit - anything that will help keep the "manure from hitting the ventilator" will soon be must-have tech.
      • 3D printing is one of those things that will be pretty much essential for successful manned missions farther away than the moon.

        Once 3D printing develops from it's current "stone knives and bearskins" stage of development and reaches the 21st century, sure. But even once the far off day arrives where we can print in a wide variety of materials (I.E. those suited to the task of the parts being replaced) and assuming it reaches the stage where the printed parts don't require substantial hand finishing for pr

        • That's why you carry spare parts with you. And why you "design for maintenance". And why you do extensive development and testing beforehand to figure out what parts are most likely to break. And design parts to be reliable. And reinforce the parts where you can. And...

          And after you do all of those things, sometimes something breaks that you don't have a spare for. And when the nearest replacement part is nine months away, you're screwed.

          Being able to make spare parts is a GOOD thing. And the fewer thing

          • And after you do all of those things, sometimes something breaks that you don't have a spare for. And when the nearest replacement part is nine months away, you're screwed.

            Sure, there's that one-in-a-million chance. I never argued that point - only that you have no idea how the world works. And by insisting that we must take into account that one-in-a-million chance, I'd add the argument that you're resistant to any suggestion that you might know less than you do.

            Being able to make spare parts is

        • by AC-x ( 735297 )

          That's why you carry spare parts with you.

          Still, with mass at a premium it would be more efficient to send up a stockpile of raw plastic rather than many combinations of different spare parts. After all you can't perfectly predict which parts will fail and how often, so you could get caught short on a part that was supposed to be reliable but failed more than often it was predicted to.

          • Still, with mass at a premium it would be more efficient to send up a stockpile of raw plastic rather than many combinations of different spare parts.

            For the relatively small fraction of parts that will break that are printable plastics - that's a great thing. (At least with anything resembling current technology.) For everything else, especially the electronics parts that will represent the greatest proportion of the failures... not so much.

      • by stiggle ( 649614 )

        You want a laser based 3D printer that fuses metallic dust rather than the plastic string melters.

    • by skine ( 1524819 )

      Why not functional items as well as toys, or, even better, functional items including toys?

      These are people spending weeks to months, and sometimes even a whole year there. Surely they deserve some fun.

  • I thought I knew my instruments, I never heard of such a thing. I thought the "scat" part was maybe an error, but it's not.
    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/f... [nasa.gov]

    • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

      Thanks for the link, I was curious about that, too. "RapidScat" sounds like what I do after chili night.

      • Just calling it the RapidScatt would have prevented that unfortunate association... I got it wrong, it is called a scaterrometer, two r...

  • by photonic ( 584757 ) on Sunday September 21, 2014 @01:10PM (#47959419)
    This time, they launched without the landing legs [spaceflightnow.com], but since they are still testing above water that does not matter a lot. Deploying the legs and soft landing on water have been tried successfully already, so I imagine they could test other things like partially flying back to the launching site, fuel permitting. The twitters are silent, so far, however.
  • Friday night at Ames Visitor Center (the big white tent just before main gate) had presentations by Ames project scientists on bioscience payloads, and had Q&A from audience. Also nice pamphlets and brochures for these programs were handed out (real cool to get hardcopy unlike typical webpage downloads). They intended to show launch on the big screen (NASA-TV) but it was scrubbed.

    Ames student Fruit-Fly Experiment (AFEx)
    Rodent Research-1 will examine how microgravity affects the rodents.
    Seedling G

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...how come they store the maximum number of experiments in a CHAR?

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