No, we’re not referring to the identically-named giftshop at Kennedy Space Centre where you can buy all the freeze-dried ice cream you’d care to eat; we are instead referring to NASA’s Advanced Digital Materials and Manufacturing for Space initiative at their Ames Research Center. It’s basically a FabLab for NASA makers.
The SpaceShop includes all the typical makerspace gear: laser cutters, woodworking, metalwork equipment – but it also includes 3D printers.
In a video by CNET’s Sumi Das, we can catch a glimpse of the new workshop, including one of the 3D printers, which appears to be a 3D Systems Cube. Although not shown, we strongly suspect NASA has larger 3D printing gear in addition to the small Cube.
Why is NASA setting up a Fablab? From their objective:
Apply these FabLab-based advanced manufacturing technologies to some of our specific ARC technology and product interests, including small spacecraft structures and components, biological technologies and in particular synthetic biology, small science instruments and spaceflight hardware and components, and in-situ repurposing of space products and materials.
They’re trying to “take the best lessons of the maker community” into NASA. Hopefully access to this rapid prototyping capability will enable the scientists and engineers at NASA to develop even more amazing spacecraft.