Made In Space has received a $73.7 million contract from NASA to test a small robot designed to produce spacecraft components in low-Earth orbit. NASA said Saturday that the company will demonstrate the potential of Archinaut One to manufacture technologies for the agency’s missions to Mars and the moon.
The award marks the beginning of the second phase of a public-private partnership that was formed via the Tipping Point solicitation process and includes a cost-sharing arrangement.
Archinaut One is scheduled to fly aboard a Rocket Lab-made Electron rocket from New Zealand by 2022 and expected to demonstrate a 3D printing process upon reaching orbit.
The agency expects the robotic spacecraft to manufacture two beams that would unfold and function as solar panels. The resulting panels are intended to generate five times more energy than standard solar panels of similar size. Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) and the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory also support the mission.