It looks like a small satellite with 3 robotic arms. Baptized by these designers, the Archinaut should be able to build large structures in space thanks to 3D printing. That’s Made In Space, the company that designed the 3D printer is currently in production in the international space station that was loaded with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems to design this robot. NASA has allocated $ 20 million for this project which is to buy in 2018.
Make assemble large structures in orbit by robots blew the limits of current launchers
The idea of using robots to build structures in orbit is not completely new. in particular we remember in 2012 the launch of SpiderFab studies, a robot with 4 robotic arms to assemble, paste, welding large structures in space. The typical scenario studied was then manufactured in space very large solar panels, free from the constraints of those fitted to existing satellites and must be folded to sit under the fairing of the launch vehicle, and then unfolded in orbit. The study carried out in 2012-2013 by the American Tethers Unlimited (TUI) have shown that weight identical launch a SpiderFab like robot could make a solar sail 124 meters across against 62 m with a classic fold system.
With these results, NASA stimulus studies around this concept by providing a budget of $ 20 million to Made in Space and Northrop Grumman to develop design the Archinaut . Manufacturers have until 2018 to design this robot that will be both a 3D printer capable of operating in the vacuum of space and a robot that will manipulate and assemble outgoing structures its “belly”. Unlike the robotic arm of the ISS, it will be a real robot, able to operate without human intervention. Nevertheless the Archinaut be designed to operate close to the international space station, if only to be supplied with raw materials. His first task will be to produce structures called Optimast, supportants structures solar panels very large. If the goal is achieved, perhaps in the future, satellites will be launched in their bulky solar panels and they will be manufactured in orbit by a Archinaut or one of its descendants.
The model presented to the press on February 19 at the Ames Research Center of NASA that matches the initial design Archinaut. Engineers already raised the possibility of larger embedded 3D printer and graft more arms to their creature. See you in 2018 to see what look like the Archinaut who take the path of the stars!
Translation : Google Translate
Source: “Archinaut has 3D Printing to Make Big Robot in Space Structures” Singularity Hub, March 2, 2016