ON-ORBIT MANUFACTURING


TRANSITIONING FROM RESEARCH TO MANUFACTURING

Since the late 1960’s, we have been learning the advantages of manufacturing in space and how to go about doing it – how materials behave, what equipment is needed and which markets will immediately present the largest demand.

We are now identifying products that represent potential commercial booms for those who come manufacture on the Axiom Station. The Internet opened a world of software applications and Axiom’s microgravity platform opens a world of manufacturing applications. The possibilities are as unlimited as the minds of entrepreneurs and scientists.

Manufacturing products in the unique environment in space for use on the ground and in space is the next industrial revolution. Axiom will provide the low-cost platform and high throughput logistics train necessary to develop, manufacture and bring your product to market.

Products being considered for high volume production today include:

The greatest opportunities are those we haven’t yet imagined. Axiom Space is a platform for innovators across the globe to develop unique products in microgravity for distribution to mass markets on Earth and for utilization in space.

  • Fiber optics
  • Higher strength, lower weight alloy products
  • Satellites
  • Biomedical research components such as protein crystals
  • Biological tissues, including human organs
  • Microencapsulation

ADVANTAGES OF MANUFACTURING IN SPACE

  • Control of convection
  • Elimination of sedimentation
  • Diffusion allows otherwise immiscible materials to be intermixed
  • Larger, higher-quality crystals
  • Near-absolute vacuum of space allows for pure materials and objects
  • Vapor deposition can be conducted layer by layer without defects
  • Surface tension produces perfect spheres
  • Sunlight can be focused to melt materials
  • Shaded exterior exposure achieve temperatures close to absolute zero
  • Temperature gradient can be used to produce strong materials

ADVANCED MATERIALS

Advanced materials include alloys, glasses & porcelains, specialized layered deposition materials and other integrated materials.

One example, seen here is fiber optic glass produced in microgravity (left) and in normal gravity (right).

Fiber optics pulled in Earth’s gravity (right) vs. those pulled in microgravity (left). Smooth surface avoids signal scatter and clear fiber allows for faster transmission
Credit: NASA


TIMELINE OF IN-SPACE MANUFACTURING

    10.16.1969

    Soyuz 6 astronauts perform first welding experiments in space, including welding aluminum, titanium and stainless steel.

    05.14.1973

    SkyLab crew performed molten metal processing, crystal growth, immiscible alloy processing, brazing stainless tubing and electron beam welding.

    02.03.1994

    Deployed by the Space Shuttle's robotic arm, the Wake Shield Facility manufactured thin films of gallium arsenide and aluminum gallium arsenide.

    05.31.2005

    Foton-M2 Unmanned laboratory conducts experiments on crystal growth and behavior of molten metal in microgravity.

    02.07.2008

    The Fluids Science Laboratory studies the behavior of liquids in microgravity aboard the International Space Station

    07.29.2014

    Material Science Laboratory Electromagnetic Levitator begins studying melting and solidification properties of various materials.

    11.24.2014

    Made In Space's Zero-G printer successfully prints first part manufactured in space - a buckle to be used as part of ISS exercise equipment.

    12.17.2014

    Made In Space prints the first uplinked tool, a ratchet, on the International Space Station.

    03.23.2016

    Made In Space's Additive Manufacturing Facility begins printing aboard ISS. Over 40 parts printed to date.

    05.25.2017

    NASA announces solicitation for multi-material fabrication laboratory to be tested aboard the International Space Station commencing 2021

    2020

    First Axiom Crew arrives at the International Space Station

    2022

    Axiom Space plans on connecting its first modules to ISS in early 2022 and at that time make facilities available to commercial manufacturers.