NASA manufactures first 3D-printed object in space

First step to long-term space exploration

3D printing has quite literally gone out-of-this-world following the news that NASA has manufactured the first 3D-printed object in space, which the space agency says will "pave the way to future long-term space explorations".

After calibrating a 3D printer over the course of the week, NASA astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore was able to manufacture a replacement part for it aboard the International Space Station on November 24.

In a blog post, the space agency said that it was critical that 3D printers could print replacement parts before they could be used by space explorers to make spare and replacement parts for critical items in space.

The first objects manufactured in space are to be returned to Earth in 2015 to be analysed and compared to identical versions made on the ground.