The status and future of NASA’s in-space and lunar manufacturing

A sustainable human presence on the Moon will require manufacturing materials and structures on the surface. Space-based 3D printing capabilities will be key to this endeavor. On the next Blue Origin launch, researchers from the University of Kentucky will test 3D printing techniques that could be the first to produce metal components in space. Credit: NASA.

If humanity is to live in space, whether in low Earth orbit, on the Moon or elsewhere, we’re going to eventually need to setup in-space and lunar manufacturing.

Today on the SpaceQ podcast we’re featuring our third episode from our annual Summer Series, In-Space Manufacturing and Lunar Construction Technology Development at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

The talk is from the Future In-Space Operations weekly teleconference and this episode was recorded Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

The speaker is NASA’s Raymond “Corky” Clinton Jr., Associate Director of the Science & Technology Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Dr. Clinton takes takes us on a brief journey of what’s been done by NASA to date and then discusses what NASA is doing now and what the future of in-space and lunar manufacturing might be.

Dr. Clinton joined NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in 1984 as an aerospace materials engineer in the Materials and Processes Laboratory. He has served in a broad variety of leadership positions in the Engineering Directorate, Science Directorate, and the Safety & Mission Assurance Directorate.

Dr. Clinton was selected to lead NASA’s investigation into foam loss during liftoff of the Return To Flight mission of space shuttle Discovery on STS-114 in July 2005. The findings and recommendations of the investigation led to several significant design and safety improvements to the space shuttle’s External Tank.

He has long championed the development of in space manufacturing, starting with MSFC’s first 3D printing microgravity experiment test flight in 1999 and is currently the Principal Investigator of the Moon-to-Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology (MMPACT) project.

Dr. Clinton earned his bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is the recipient of numerous NASA and industry awards, including AIAA Fellow, Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executives, NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal, and the Silver Snoopy. 

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Presentation: In-Space Manufacturing & Lunar Construction Technology Development


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About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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