Star Trek Replicator For Space Station?

NASA has tested electron beam freeform fabrication (EBF3) in a weightless environment and may provide the technology to astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

The method, called electron beam freeform fabrication (EBF3), uses an electron beam to melt metals and build objects layer by layer. Such an approach already promises to cut manufacturing costs for the aerospace industry, and could pioneer development of new materials.

"They get up there, and all they have is time and imagination," said Karen Taminger, the materials research engineer heading the project at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia.


(Weightless experiments with EBF3)

Early "vomit comet" tests on NASA's C-9 aircraft showed that EBF3 could work well in a zero-g environment. Taminger and her team managed to build a number of parts that looked exactly the same as parts built on Earth, down to the microstructure scale.

Some researchers had predicted that the method would fail to produce anything but "ball bearings," or liquid metallic spheres in zero-g. But the wire feeders successfully deposited the metal layers onto the rotating plate as usual, except for the occasional misaligned wire that would create a growing sphere on its end.

The big next step for EBF3 involves going to the space station. Taminger has already gotten the device down to a "suitcase style experiment" that fits within a volume of less than eight cubic feet, but still needs funding and a possible slot aboard one of the remaining space shuttle missions. The device could also go up on a contracted NASA flight with the Russian Soyuz rockets, or even a private launch.

Going to the space station means that EBF3 can take advantage of the vacuum environment in space, and sit on an outside rack -- perhaps the "back porch" of Japan's Kibo space lab.

Star Trek fans recall the essential replicator technology that makes long-term space voyages possible. In the fictional series, a replicator can create and recycle objects, synthesize meals on demand, and even allow the crew to shop for and obtain unusual articles that would not ordinarily be stocked on a star ship.


(Star Trek replicator)

From Space.com.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/5/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Super-Resolution Microscopy Provides '4D' Views
View the magnified interior of living cells.

Physicists Try To Turn Light Into Matter
If E=mc squared, then... m=E/c squared!

Dune Fans! Power Your Devices With Sweaty Shirts
Yet another power source from humans.

Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

IBM's Grain Of Sand Computer
'Our ancestors... thought to make the very sand beneath their feet intelligent...'

Liquid Metal Shape-Changing 'Soft Robotics'
'A mimetic poly-alloy... 'What the hell does that mean?''

The Hammock Caravan And Italo Calvino's Octavia
'Now I will tell you how Octavia, the spider-web city, is made.'

Super-Resolution Microscopy Provides '4D' Views
View the magnified interior of living cells.

Have I Seen The Tesla Roadster Story Before?
'Only it wasn't a vessel. It was an automobile...'

Watch 'Do You Trust This Computer' For Free Today
Thanks for making this available, Elon.

Self-Driving Car Ticketed
This just missed making my day.

Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.'

Burner Generates Temporary Phone Numbers
'Interesting phone system he's got, by the way...'

Walmart’s Autonomous Robot Bees
Everyone loves bees.

EA Created AI That Taught Itself To Play Battlefield
Harmless fun for computer scientists.

Is Teleportation A Death Sentence?
'A long trail of dead, he thought, left across the stars...'

New Brain Scanner Lets You Move Around
'In Bob Arctor's living room his thousand dollar custom-quality cephscope crafted by Altec...'

Can An Entire Brain Be Simulated In A Computer?
'The miles of relays and photocells had given way to the spongy globe of platinum iridium about the size of the human brain.'

Physicists Try To Turn Light Into Matter
If E=mc squared, then... m=E/c squared!

Save Your Brain's Connectome, Upload Yourself Elsewhere
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.