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)
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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Phil Nuyttnn's City Under The Sea
''Under the lower roof there was no water, but a clear and luminous atmosphere...' - Andre Laurie, 1895.
Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.
Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.' - Larry Niven, 1970.
Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...' - Paul Di Filippo, 1985
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.
Soon, Your Tesla Will Follow You Like A Pet
'... follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'
Chinese Watrix Gait Recognition Watching You Always
'... those pesky gait-recognition cameras.'
FlexPai Foldable Phone By Royole
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.'
Oh Yes, We're Building The Rotating Tower In Dubai
'Give me an old-fashioned tetragon on a central pivot every time.'
Bioreactor Helps Legless Frogs Get Their Jump Back
'An alien drug... Used by an insect race... It can repair bones and organs. It can grow new tissue."
Xinhua AI Anchor Puts CGI Face To Automated News
'...a congeries of software agents.'
Wirewax Watching You Watch, Adjusting Your Experience
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'
LawGeex AI Beats 20 Top Lawyers
'The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software - terrified of putting... its members out of work.'
ROAM Robotics Skiing Exoskeleton
'The real genius in the design is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it...'
MIT Headset Lets You Communicate Without Speaking
'The subvocal read nerve signals, letting her enter words by just beginning to will them...'
Exploring Oceans Across The Solar System
'Black liquid flashed past the turbotís infrared eyes.'
SWEEPER Robot Peter Piper Picking Peppers
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant, apparently on caterpillar tracks, cutting off the ripe fruit.'
Oil from Algae - Can It Be Done?
'We dump everything that's waste into the tanks, pump the oil off the top.'
Moving Whole Planets, Revisited
There was a lot of work done on this idea over the years.
Disney Keeps Backups Of Star Wars Franchise Actors
'She is a personality-construct, a congeries of software agents...'
Farming In Space Starts With Mycorrhiza
'The inner leaves were beginning to curl faster than the outer leaves.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories