NASA emails a 3D printed spanner to the International Space Station
It is the first time hardware has been "emailed" to space. Nasa was responding to a request by ISS commander Barry Wilmore for a ratcheting socket wrench. Previously, if astronauts requested a specific item they could have waited months for it to be flown up on one of the regular supply flights.
Mike Chen, founder of Made In Space, the company behind the 3-D printer, said: "We had overheard ISS Commander Barry Wilmore (who goes by "Butch") mention over the radio that he needed one, so we designed one in CAD and sent it up to him faster than a rocket ever could have."
Mr Wilmore installed the printer on the ISS on 17 November. On 25 November he used the machine to fabricate its first object, a replacement part for the printer. Nasa says the capability will help astronauts be more self-reliant on future long duration space missions.
Check out the PlanetTech News interview with the company behind the project, Made In Space.