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NASA News: 3D Printing in Space Brings 'Star Trek' Replicator to Life [VIDEO]

(Photo : REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensc) The technology will ultimately help keep the 15-year-old orbiting research center in working order.

Micro-manufacturing aboard the International Space Station is blurring the line between science and science fiction.

NASA says 3D printing aboard the space station will function a bit like the replicator from Star Trek, creating certain supplies and parts without the need for delivery.

Instead, a  machine can "print" out 3D objects layer by layer by laying down polymers and other materials.

The technology will ultimately help keep the 15-year-old orbiting research center in working order, the Telegraph reports.

"3D printing provides us the ability to do our own 'Star Trek' replication right there on the spot," NASA astronaut Timothy Creamer told the Telegraph, adding: "To help us replace things we've lost, replace things we've broken or maybe make things that we've thought of that would be useful."

The first 3D printer in space will arrive next year aboard a spacecraft on a resupply mission. It will make space missions more efficient -- and safer, NDTV reports.

"Imagine an astronaut needing to make a life-or-death repair on the International Space Station," said Aaron Kemmer, CEO of Made in Space on the company's website. "Rather than hoping that the necessary parts and tools are on the station already, what if the parts could be 3D printed when they needed them?"

Made in Space is currently testing a range of 3D printing technologies in zero-gravity to work out any complications.

See how it works in a video below:


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