Thanks to the team at NASA Johnson Space Center and the Seeker Program, led by lead engineer Christopher Radke, we will finally see additive manufactured parts flying in space on the free flying autonomous robots Seeker and Kenobi. The Seeker program will test the robotic free flying robots that will fly in space around spacecrafts to monitor and inspect the ship. The SEEKER project has the first certified plastic AM parts in actual space. Both the Seeker robots will have Additive Manufactured parts made by TTH with the Carbon DLS (Digital Light Synthesis) to process on M2 machines in CE 221 Cyanate Ester material.
There are four components that were 3D printed in Carbon’s DLS technology at TTH. These components are part of the cold-gas propulsion system used to thrust Seeker and Kenobi in space to navigate and inspect spacecraft. All parts could only be made with 3D printing in order to allow the internal channels to work most optimally, while reducing weight and area in the assembly. The CE 221 material permits the parts to be used in space due to the strength, accuracy and temperature allowances. The internal channels were critical to produce parts with high accuracy to ensure thrust and flight was streamlined with design that could not be made any other way.
These Seeker robots launched to the International Space Station on Northrup Grummen’s Cygnus 11 from Wallops Island, Virginia on Wednesday April 17th at 4:46pm.
Check out Carbon’s blog on their website: NASA SEEKER