3D printed Siberian satellite ready for space launch
11 Mar '16
Researchers at the Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) in Siberia have “printed out” a fully functional small satellite on a 3D printer. The spacecraft designated “Tomsk-TPU-120” will soon be taken to Baikonur, the main Russian launch center in the territory of neighboring Kazakhstan, and then a “Progress” cargo rocket will take it to the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit. The launch of the Tomsk-TPU-120 from the ISS is slated for March 31, the TPU website announced.
It’s one of the CubSat type of nanodimensional satellites, sized 300x100x100mm. This is the world’s first such project, in which the entire casing of a satellite is fully 3D printed. The spacecraft will operate at an altitude of about 400km for as long as six months.
TPU is launching the project to conduct a series of tests for new materials never tested in space before.
It is expected that in a near future, the 3D printing technology for small satellites will be used widely.
The Tomsk satellite is a joint design project between Tomsk Polytechnic’s Modern Industrial Technologies research and educational center and the local Research Institute of Strength Physics and Material Science. All the materials used in the Tomsk-TPU-120 have been approved for use in the project by Roscosmos, the main Russian space exploration agency. Plastics are mostly used, with the storage battery unit made by 3D printing from zirconium ceramics.