Three companies tapped to produce prototypes for NASA’s ‘FabLab’ initiative
NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program has selected three companies to produce “FabLab” prototypes of machines that can be used for space-based, on-demand fabrication.
Interlog Corporation of Anaheim, California; Techshot, Inc., of Greeneville, Indiana; and Tethers Unlimited, Inc., of Bothell, Washington, were the three companies chosen to produce these prototypes. Some $10.2 million will be awarded under this effort. These companies have about a year-and-a-half to deliver. Once they do so, NASA will then choose partners and take the “next step” in developing their designs.
“NASA is challenging industry partners to expand possibilities for making, repairing and recycling items in space,” said Niki Werkheiser, the lead for in-space manufacturing via a release issued by the agency. “The FabLab prototypes will provide valuable insights and help lay the foundation for meaningful on-demand manufacturing capabilities needed for sustainable human spaceflight missions.”
The space agency sought out proposals for terrestrial prototypes that were capable of producing items made out of a range of materials. This multi-material fabrication lab, or FabLab, under Appendix B of the NextSTEP-2 Broad Agency Announcement.
Managed by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division and Space Technology Mission Directorate, FabLab is one effort among others NASA has been directed to carry out to develop key technologies.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.