(Yicai Global) May 18 -- China is set to conduct in-orbit three-dimensional printing experiments next year, an executive at China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. said, adding that the technology will allow in-space assembly of equipment such as radio telescopes and help substantially cut construction and maintenance costs.
A CAST executive briefed the second World Intelligence Congress on progress in the research of the technology in China's eastern city of Tianjin yesterday. CAST units are studying how to carry out 3D printing in microgravity in space and are preparing for experiments in a weightless environment in space next year, online news outlet The Paper reported today.
The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched its SpiderFab project in 2012. The project team is working on robots that can print and assemble large truss structures in manner similar the way spiders spin their webs. NASA plans to conduct space experiments in 2024.
"This space smart manufacturing project cannot be achieved without the help of artificial intelligence technology," the executive said. "Since space projects need to complete complex tasks in harsh environment with high radiation and huge temperature differentials and involve high costs and maintenance difficulties, we must improve their in-orbit health management abilities using intelligent means."
China has an urgent demand for AI technologies for space applications, the executive said, adding that in addition to in-orbit 3D printing, deep space exploration, manned lunar landing, space base construction and dispatching landers to Mars also require technological support.
Editor: Ben Armour