Can you 3D print in space? Would powder just float away? Would molten filament cooperate? These are all important questions to ask as 3D printing could have unique value for space travel. On a spacecraft you have limited cargo space and weight is precious, so bringing a lot of spare parts is not an option. 3D printing could be perfect as you could make virtually anything on demand. You may have seen Apollo 13 where they made everything with duct tape and bags, but that may not be practical on an interplanetary mission. Space.com had a great article that describes the “Made In Space” team and the issues with 3D printing in space and their testing on the “Vomit Comet” of several 3D printers. Here’s a video interview from EngineeringTV.com about one specific printer or got to http://www.madeinspace.us/ for lots of cool info about their work!
Astronauts talk about the “Overview Effect” of space that transforms their minds and perspectives. They describe it as a sense of awe and a feeling that Earth is a “shared home”, a breathing organism. I can only imagine what it must be like from the sense of awe we get from seeing images from Hubble like the one above. Combining this perspective and 3D printing could lead to some pretty cool stuff!
Oh, if you want to checkout wild, watch this video of an astronaut on the international space station wringing out a washcloth!