Recently, in the 10th commercial replenishment service of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, the first integrated 3D printer and recycling system was carried to the International Space Station.
The 3D printed material recycling system, named Refabricator, converts waste plastic and old 3D printed material parts into raw plastic materials that are compatible with the International Space Station (ISS) 3D printing system.
Astronauts can use this technology to make and recycle food safety appliances and turn off-the-shelf waste into raw materials to help build the next generation of space systems.
The Refabricator device was developed by NASA in collaboration with Tethers Unlimited Inc. (TUI). This technology may also be used in future lunar and Mars exploration missions.
The mission completed the final flight test at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Almost all operations are remotely controlled by Marshall's Load Operations Integration Center, Space Station Science Mission Control, and Tethers Unlimited Inc.
At 4:01 am on November 17, Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket launched a privately built Cygnus spacecraft in Virginia filled with NASA. Supplies are provided to the International Space Station. This includes astronaut supplies and scientific laboratory supplies, and the Refabricator 3D printed material recycling system is one of the cargo.