More than 8,200 pounds of supplies and scientific experiments were delivered to the International Space Station on Thursday following the successful docking of Northrup Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft with the orbiting laboratory.
NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara finished the docking by snaring the spacecraft with the robotic arm of the International Space Station (ISS), with backup assistance from astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli.
On Tuesday, Cygnus set out on its journey to the space station from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
The testing of 3D printing in space, specifically for the production of small metal goods in microgravity, will be one of the many experiments carried to the space station. The test would be helpful for extended lunar and Martian missions where it might be challenging to visit the hardware shop.
“This investigation provides us with an initial understanding of how such a printer behaves in space,” said the European Space Agency’s Rob Postema, according to Space.com. “A 3D printer can create many shapes, and we plan to print specimens, first to understand how printing in space may differ from printing on Earth.
“Second, to see what types of shapes we can print with this technology. In addition, this activity helps show how crewmembers can work safely and efficiently with printing metal parts in space.”
The 20th Northrop Grumman mission to the International Space Station began on Thursday with its arrival.
Up until May, when it returns to Earth and burns up in the atmosphere, the Cygnus will remain affixed to the International Space Station.