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Asteroid-Mining Company 3D-Prints Object from Space Rock Metals – Space.com

by • January 7, 2016 • No Comments

Planetary Resources 3D Prints Part Using Asteroid Metal The asteroid-mining company Planetary Resources and its partner 3D Systems have 3D-printed an object created of powdered asteroid metal.
Credit: Planetary Resources
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An asteroid-mining company is giving the world a glimpse at its vision of the future.
Planetary Resources, which aims to extract water and other useful materials of asteroids, has 3D-printed an object using metal powder gleaned of a space rock.
“It is the initially part at any time 3D-printed with material of outer space and is reminiscent of a design which may commence of a 3D printer in the zero-gravity environment of space,” Planetary Resources representatives wrote in a blog post Thursday (Jan. 7) of the object, which is of 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) tall by 3.4 inches (8.7 cm) wide and weighs 8.8 ounces (250 grams). [10 Ways 3D-Printing May Transform Space Travel]

“The asteroid (or meteorite) utilized for the print materials was sourced of the Campo Del Cielo impact near Argentina, and is composed of iron, nickel and cobalt — much like materials to refinery-grade steel,” they introduced.
Planetary Resources worked with the company 3D Systems to build the complicated geometric object, which was unveiled Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Planetary Resources’ 3D-Printed Part Made of Asteroid Metal

One other look at the geometric object 3D-printed by asteroid-mining company Planetary Resources and its partner 3D Systems using powdered asteroid metal.
Credit: Planetary Resources
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Planetary Resources, which is based in Washington State, isn’t the just entity which views 3D printing as a key technology in the spaceflight arena going forward. For example, NASA officials have said 3D printing may assist open up the solar process to human exploration, by making voyaging spaceships and off-planet Earth outposts less dependent on their home planet for supplies and spare parts.
Indeed, the space agency not long ago teamed up with the California-based startup Made In Space to commence a 3D printer to the International Space Station, to see how well the technology works in microgravity. (The results to date are quite encouraging, NASA officials and Made In Space representatives have said.)
Planetary Resources’ asteroid-mining ambitions start with water, which the company plans to split into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen — the chief components of rocket fuel. If all goes according to plan, this propellant will be sold of in-space “gas stations,” allowing spacecraft to top up their tanks on the go inside the next 10 years. The company aims to some day mine platinum and other valuable metals of space rocks. (One other company, Deep Space Industries, has much like ambitions.)
Planetary Resources may already has a spacecraft in planet Earth orbit, a small cubesat called Arkyd-3R which deployed of the International Space Station last July to test avionics, software and other key technology which future asteroid-mining probes will require.
Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

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