The new introduction of in-orbit 3D printing technology can significantly reduce the cost of satellite delivery.
Japanese technology company Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has developed a new way of using solar energy to print 3D satellite horns into space, a press release from the company revealed.
The new method can reduce costs by eliminating the need to transport heavy parts that take up many rocket space into orbit. As an indication, SpaceX typically charges about $ 1,200 per pound (0.45 Kg) of payload to reach Earth’s low altitude.
The Mitsubishi method uses a unique “photosensitive resin” that reacts with the Sun’s ultraviolet rays, turning it into a solid object for space.
Horns are more sensitive when they are larger, which means a more significant limit on the sensitivity of horns to space due to the limitations of conventional satellite launch methods. They should also be built to be strong enough to withstand vibrations during launch without breaking, which means they must use heavy materials, increasing the launch cost to the satellite operator.
This means that 3D-printed parts in space can be much simpler and smaller than a standard space note. In other words, operators will be able to deliver satellites at a lower cost and with improved capabilities.