If Redwire Corp.'s work using plastics to 3D print tools and components sounds otherworldly, that's because it is. Or at least the company expects it will be.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company has a new $5.9 million contract from NASA to complete the design of FabLab, which the company calls an "in-space manufacturing system."
FabLab will use resin as well as metals, ceramics and electronics to create new parts and products in space, allowing explorers to avoid needing to anticipate and transport every item they might need.
The new contract builds upon work started in 2017 when NASA selected Redwire to prototype FabLab.
"This latest contract will see the FabLab design fully matured to spaceflight-ready status. An anticipated follow-on contract will support the construction of a FabLab unit and its test aboard the [International Space Station] in low Earth orbit (LEO)," the company said. "FabLab is expected to be tested on board the ... ISS and serve as a precursor for Artemis missions to the Moon and Mars."
Redwire said FabLab goes beyond the company's existing Additive Manufacturing Facility, described as the first permanent commercial manufacturing platform to operate in low Earth orbit. That system already has made more than 300 tools and other parts on board the International Space Station.
AMF only uses resin to produce parts and tools, while FabLab brings additional capabilities. FabLab and AMF are considered distinct projects by Redwire and will continue separately, the company said.