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Dreams of Orbital Factories May Get Real Via 3-D Metal Printing

  • Company plans to build metal parts and recycle them in orbit
  • Interest climbs as Trump directs NASA back to the moon
Space Shuttle Endeavour's Mission To The International Space Station

Photographer: NASA via Getty Images

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Sending metal parts up to orbiting satellites and rockets is a slow and expensive process. So why not put the factory in orbit too?

It’s not as outlandish as it might sound. Made In Space, a Mountain View, California-based company, plans to use 3-D printing to manufacture metal parts in space. The technology is already used here on Earth by companies such as General Electric Co. and Siemens AG to build components for everything from jet engines to rockets. Cosmic applications are expected to gain traction as space travel expands.