NASA recently announced that it would give money to a California 3D printing company to find ways to turn asteroids into huge, autonomous spacecraft that could fly to outposts in space, according to media reports in Space & # 39; 39; s project, known as RAMA (Reconstructing Asteroids in Mechanical Vending Machines), could one day enable space-based colonization by helping to make terrestrial manufacturing efficient and economically viable Space.com reported  use 3D printing to turn the asteroids into self-flying vehicles by 2030.
The concept was funded by the NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts program, which provides $ 1 million for feasibility studies.
"Today we have the ability to extract resources from Earth," said Jason Dunn, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Made In Space.
"But when we come to a watershed where we need the resources in space, the question is, where do they come from and how do we get them and how do we get them there? we need? & # 39; This is one way to do that, "he said.
The Company is considering sending an advanced robotic seed craft to meet in space as part of its long-term project with a series of near-earth asteroids in space.
The Seed Craft would harvest material from the space rocks and use this input material to construct propulsion, navigation, energy storage, and other key systems using 3D printing and other technologies.
Turning them into autonomous spacecraft The asteroids could be programmed to that they would fly to a mine station in Earth-Moon space or wherever they are needed.
This approach would be much more efficient than launching a new capture probe (or probes) in each and every space rock for the exploitation of resources, said the report.
With RAMA still at a very early stage, Dunn estimates that the effort could take 20 years and the first Seed Craft could start in the late 2030s. 19659002] Project RAMA coul "We also have applications here on Earth," Dunn added, saying that Seed Craft-like machines could do a variety of jobs around the planet.
"You could build infrastructure in remote places a little bit autonomously and turn resources into useful devices and mechanical machines, which could actually solve some big problems on earth, from housing to constructing things that improve people's lives ", he said.