Made In Space Inc. has devised a plan and a device to create structures in space. These structures could range anywhere from small parts to potentially entire space stations. The concept has been given the name "Archinaut" -- an architectural astronaut. The usage of the Archinaut would be essential to building important structures for future space exploration. The company has been backed and even partly funded by NASA for this particular project. The system will provide many uses for future spacial missions, and even for the present vessels orbiting our precious blue planet.

What is Archinaut?

The Archinaut concept consists of a 3D printer and flexible robotic arms. The idea behind it is that the 3D printer will make parts for existing, or not yet existing vessels, and the arms will be used to either place/replace parts on existing space craft, or to begin/continue construction on brand new ones. This process will make it possible to have non-conventional structures in space. Solar panels and even things as far off as landing pads, docking stations, and fuel depositories for interstellar ships could be constructed within the Earth's orbit.

The pros of a space-based building station

The beauty of this project is that, while it exists and works, we will be able to have spacecraft in space that wouldn't otherwise be able to be launched from Earth.

We won't have to worry about creating objects that need to be aerodynamic for launch. The objects also won't have to battle with the forces of Earth's atmosphere nor reach a high-velocity speed to escape the bulk of its gravitational pull. Things will be built in space, and, therefore, will also be specialized for that environment.

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This Archinaut is truly the gatekeeper for the final frontier and it will help us reach the stars in ways we've only dreamed about.

Looking ahead

Though the future of Archinaut isn't totally clear as of now, this holds many exciting possibilities for both the short and long term. Made In Space Inc. is hoping that they're first demonstration mission, which is tentatively scheduled for 2018, will be a success.

They hope to make a small structure only a few meters large. It will act as both a demonstration of Archinaut's capabilities, but also as a small experiment to test its functionality. Adding the robotic arms to Archinaut is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018, about 18 months from now. Until then, we'll just have to think of future projects for Archinaut to create.