NASA-Funded Robotic Spiders Could Build a Space-Bound Home for Humanity

Monday, 06 April 2015 - 1:49PM
Space
Technology
Robotics
Monday, 06 April 2015 - 1:49PM
NASA-Funded Robotic Spiders Could Build a Space-Bound Home for Humanity
A NASA-funded program called SpiderFab aims to build large crafts and satellites in space using spider-like robots. The project, from a company called Tethers Unlimited, builds large objects in Earth's orbit in order to save money and energy from launches. According to the robot's creators, could eventually build the human race an elaborate space-bound habitat.

NASA-Funded Robotic Spiders Could Build a Space-Bound Home for Humanity

[Credit: Tethers Unlimited]



Tethers Unlimited CEO and chief scientist Dr. Robert Hoyt claims that the current process of building a spaceship is needlessly inefficient, not to mention expensive. According to Hoyt, eliminating the need for a launch would streamline the process considerably.

"It's a very expensive and time-consuming process, and also, the size of systems is somewhat limited by the size of the deployables that are possible to fold up and fit within a launch shroud," he said. He predicts that the system would also save on materials, as none of the materials necessary for launch would need to go into orbit.

NASA-Funded Robotic Spiders Could Build a Space-Bound Home for Humanity

[Credit: Tethers Unlimited]



In the short term, Tethers Unlimited aims to use these robotic spiders to build radio antennae, solar arrays, and spacecraft booms. But Dr. Hoyt envisions a future in which the technology could build a full, sustainable human habitat in space.

"Our really long-term objective for all of this work is to eventually enable the use of in-situ resources to construct the infrastructure in space needed to support humanity's expansion throughout the solar system," said Dr. Hoyt.

Although this goal is presumably in the very far future, SpiderFab's short-term goals are very much within reach. Dr. Hoyt projects that the first fully functional construction robot will be in space in the next couple of years. "In a perfect world - if funding flowed and the contracting process didn't drag on forever - we think we could get to be able to build very large support structures for antennas and solar arrays, and those sorts of components, in the early 2020s."

Via Daily Express.
Science
NASA
Space
Technology
Robotics

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