Did you know that there’s a functional 3-D printer on the ISS? Not only that, but the astronauts aboard the International Space Station have already put it to good use and created various parts and tools. The first shipment containing 3-D printed items created in space was sent via the SpaceX Dragon and arrived at NASA just a couple of days ago. Today we’re treated with an unboxing video straight from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. That’s right, NASA scientists are not above getting on the unboxing videos bandwagon and have (naturally) followed it up by posting the video on Youtube. There’s definitely no shortage of unboxing videos on Youtube, but this one features the first ever items 3-D printed on the ISS, so it’s just a little bit more interesting than most if you ask me.
Having said all that, it’s not necessarily all that exciting to watch given that the ISS package only contains various parts and tools, but hey, it’s the idea that counts. While not super fascinating for the average joe, the parts are definitely of great interest for researchers because they can compare how zero gravity affects the manufacturing process of these parts. Additionally, NASA is also interested in seeing if there are any noticeable differences between 3-D printed items created in space and similar ones made on Earth. All the components will remain in protective bags until the inspection is complete, so we might see a follow up video with the ISS 3-D printed parts after being removed from their containers.
What’s most interesting about 3-D printing technology being used in space is that astronauts are now able to build their own parts and tools on demand without having to wait for a resupply mission. Of course, not all parts can be created this way (especially the bigger ones), but it’s definitely a good start towards making the ISS a bit more self-sustainable. Who knows, in the future we might end up seeing the ISS or other stations sending us cool gifts from space. As for the unboxing video, you can check it out below.