NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has awarded Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) a contract to demonstrate the company's autonomous robotic manufacturing and assembly platform, Archinaut, on a flight mission — this contract award marks the second phase of the NASA-funded Archinaut technology development program which was initially awarded in 2016.
This flight demonstration contract award follows a successful ground-based testing campaign of Archinaut's core additive manufacturing and robotic technologies, qualifying the Archinaut platform for spaceflight.
The objective of Archinaut's flight demonstration mission, dubbed Archinaut One, is to construct two, ten meter solar arrays, on-orbit, to power an ESPA-class satellite. Once on orbit, Archinaut One will employ its extended structure additive manufacturing capabilities and advanced robotics to manufacture and assemble the satellite's power system.
The Archinaut One mission will demonstrate transformative, near-term benefits for the satellite industry. Robust smallsat power systems, manufactured on-orbit, would reduce launch mass and cost while increasing capabilities as small satellites could host power-intensive payloads previously reserved for larger platforms. These benefits could drastically lower the barrier of entry for new users and revolutionize satellite design.
Andrew Rush, MIS president and CEO, said aautonomous, robotic manufacturing and assembly will reshape the landscape of space exploration and space infrastructure and we are taking a monumental step towards that future. Through the firm's partnership with NASA, the company will build a space-optimized asset on-orbit, for the first time, that will prove the efficacy of this technology, reduce the risk posture, and manifest new opportunities for in space manufacturing.
Michael Snyder, MIS Chief Engineer, added the Archinaut One mission is a critical proof point to validate the use of robotic manufacturing and assembly for space exploration and commercialization activities. These technologies allow the company to circumvent the design constraints imposed by the launch environment and create space optimized structures and assemblies, thereby demonstrating unprecedented capabilities.