Want your own satellite? Probably not. But a Californian startup wants you to have one, and is planning to launch a 3D printer into orbit to make it happen.
Made In Space installed a 3D printer on the International Space Station back in 2014, and it's already been used to print out a wrench that was designed back here on the surface of the Earth. As long as enough raw resources are available, 3D printing is pretty handy on a space station.
But the firm's next scheme is a little crazier. It wants to send up a printer capable of taking instructions from the public. The goal is to get kids and teenagers more interested in space exploration by letting them build their own satellites.
Pros and Cons
Such a plan could expand availability and reduce the already bargain-basement price of the existing CubeSat system - where tiny, simple satellites designed by schools and universities and then sent up alongside ISS supplies to be released by the space station.
But just imagine if 4chan got hold of the codes to the printer - our existing space debris problem would suddenly be significantly exacerbated by an unending stream of orbital wangs. Here's hoping that the public instructions capability comes with a filter of some sort.