ABC (the American network) asks why send a toolbox into orbit when you can send one tool that makes all the other ones?:
In NASA labs, engineers are 3-D printing small satellites that could shoot out of the Space Station and transmit data to earth, as well as replacement parts and rocket pieces that can survive extreme temperatures.
“Any time we realize we can 3-D print something in space, it’s like Christmas,” said inventor Andrew Filo, who is consulting with NASA on the project. “You can get rid of concepts like rationing, scarce or irreplaceable.”
When staffing his start up in 2010, [Aaron] Kemmer[, CEO of Made in Space,] and his partners warned engineers there would be ups and downs — nauseating ones. In more than a dozen flights in NASA’s “vomit comet” reduced-gravity aircraft, Made In Space scientists tested printer after printer.
For Made In Space’s debut, when it’s shuttled up to the space station aboard a spaceflight cargo resupply mission, the initial prints will be tests — different small shapes to be studied for strength and accuracy. They’re also discussing with NASA about what the first real piece that they should print will be.
Whatever it is, it will be a historic and symbolic item sure to end up in a museum someday.