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 ")

3D Printed Artificial Muscles Are Stronger Than Yours
Bots don't need to work out.

Crazyflie Drone Swarm Technology
'...Programmed to hang in space in a hexagonal grid pattern.' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.

L16 Revolutionary Optics Spells End For Ordinary DSLRs?
Time for Esper Photo Analysis, Blade Runner fans.

MIT Tunes Ions For Frictionless Surface - Superlubricity!
'My telelubricator here neutralizes the interatomic bonds the surface of any solid...' - L. Sprague de Camp, 1940.

 

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

effie Automated Ironing Appliance
'Household Automata received an urgent task to develop production units of бытовые тканевые разглаживатели - a household fabric smoother.'

BabyX AI Real Enough For You
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man? I'm showing a voice this instant... I can show a face the same way.'

We Could Downgrade Puerto Rico - And Thereby Save It
'It was cheaper to pay the refugees to go without up-to-the-minute equipment.'

Pegasus, Nvidia Supercomputer For Autonomous Driving
'...a 2045 convertible with a Hennis-Carleton positronic motor and an Armat chassis.'

Loihi Chip Mimics Human Brain's Neurons And Synapses
'You can hook a Thorsen tube into a control circuit... and the tube will "remember" what was done and can direct the operation...'

Self-Assembling Bacteria Build A Pressure Sensor
Nature is a master of fabricating structured materials consisting of living and non-living components.

3D Printed Artificial Muscles Are Stronger Than Yours
Bots don't need to work out.

Fog Computing (AKA Edge Computing) Ad Hoc Networks
'The tiny devices chirped their impulse codes at one another...'

Dubai Scorpion Police Hoverbike Ready To Pull Young Kirk Over
'Is there a problem, officer?'

Korean Tesla Model S Video 'Excelsior' Is Indeed Our Motto
'Improving man by bringing him close to Nature, while they combine the sensations of coasting with the interest of seeing the country well...'

HEXA Robotic Help For Plants
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to "help them out."

DIY Robot Shoots You In The Face
'...there were automatic guns that fired ligamine darts.'

A Bayesian Approach to Safe Imitation Learning For AIs and Robots
Um, how about that pension for the humans who serve as the models for robot behavior?

Qoobo Headless Robotic Therapy Cat Was Anne McCaffrey's Idea
'...used as surrogates in intense dependency cases.'

Autonomous Cars Talk To Each Other At MCity
'My cars talk to one another.'

PUFFER Robots - From Philip K DIck's Second Variety?
'Across the ground something small and metallic came, flashing in the dull sunlight of midday.'

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.