On a tour of the Kennedy Space Center, located near Cape Canaveral Florida, Innosek's John Kappel learned firsthand how industrial 3D printing (additive manufacturing, AM) is being used in space and deep space exploration.
I'm truly amazed and inspired at how the idea of going to the moon brought a country together to achieve an extraordinary goal, and now AM companies, like Innosek, have a growing opportunity to play a role as this future multi-billion dollar industry shapes out.
As you first enter the visitor center of the Kennedy Space Center, you are met by six rockets standing vertically more than 100 feet in the air. This opening scene paints the picture of the discovery and exploration in store.
Boeing CST-100 Starliner
Besides Rocket Garden is the newest building dedicated to mankind's next largest planetary journey, deep space exploration. Named Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex, this building houses capsules, gear, suits and more being used for 21st-century aerospace. It is here where you'll come across Boeing's next-generation space capsule, CST-100 Starliner.
In collaboration with NASA's Commercial Crew Program, the Starliner will be used to transport up to seven passengers for missions to and from low-Earth orbit. Part of what makes this capsule so comfortable and spacious is the optimized design and manufacturing of the seating system.
By pairing additive manufacturing with generative design principles the Starliner can design its seating to use unique curvatures and geometries to reduce weight and decrease the footprint of each seat.
MARS ROVER VEHICLE NAVIGATOR (MRVN)
Tucked beside NASA Now & Next, you will find a vehicle not commonly found on this planet. This next-generation Mars Rover Vehicle Navigator (MRVN) is more than your typical rover, it is a laboratory on wheels built to withstand and drive through rough and unpredictable environments; made possible by its unique tire design.
Each one of its six large wheels is made up of 30 independent treads, assembled together to form a hollow sphere, making it easy for the rover to drive over dunes, rocks, and craters with no risk of getting a flat.
Though this is not a publicly funded project yet, additive manufacturing and generative design principles continue to make the impossible possible with the reduction of weight and innovations of the future of interplanetary exploration.
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