Redwire Wins NASA Contract to Advance In-Space Manufacturing Capability
Money designated for completion of the design of FabLab, a new in-space manufacturing system.
March 24, 2023
Redwire Corp., a company in space infrastructure for the space economy, has been awarded a $5.9 million contract from NASA to complete the design of FabLab, a new in-space manufacturing system. FabLab is expected to be tested onboard the International Space Station (ISS) and serve as a precursor for Artemis missions to the Moon and Mars.
The multimaterial 3D printer will allow NASA crews in deep space to manufacture tools and components on demand using materials such as metal, plastic, ceramics and electronics, enabling a sustainable human presence on and around the Moon, Mars and beyond.
“FabLab is a solution for some of the key logistics challenges with sustained human deep space exploration aboard the Lunar Gateway and on the Moon and Mars,” says Redwire Executive Vice President John Vellinger. “Astronauts won’t need to pack their spacecraft with every tool or part they may need millions of miles from Earth. Make it, don’t take it.”
In 2017, Redwire was selected to prototype FabLab through NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships program. This latest contract will see the FabLab design fully matured to spaceflight-ready status. An anticipated follow-on contract will support the construction of a FabLab unit and its test aboard the ISS in low-Earth orbit (LEO).
Testing FabLab on the ISS will be an important step toward building versions for use at destinations beyond LEO, such as NASA’s Gateway. With FabLab technology, crews on the Moon, Mars, and in deep space will be able to manufacture critical assets, such as tools, replacement parts and printed circuit boards on demand.
“Having an integrated capability for on-demand manufacturing and repair of components and systems during space missions will be integral for sustainable exploration missions,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate programs. “This is a rapidly-evolving, disruptive area in which NASA wants to continue working with industry and academia to develop these technologies through collaborative mechanisms such as this one.”
FabLab leverages Redwire’s leadership in in-space manufacturing. Redwire’s Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF), the first permanent commercial manufacturing platform to operate in LEO, has manufactured over 200 tools, parts and assets onboard the ISS. AMF’s durability has made it a resource for government and commercial customers since its activation in 2016.
Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.
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