California startup hopes to build a factory in space

It's common for U.S. manufacturers to outsource production to less-developed countries where the overhead is less, but one California-based startup looks forward to a future where companies may outsource production to low-Earth orbit.
By Kathy Fey | Aug 31, 2017
It's common for U.S. manufacturers to outsource production to less-developed countries where the overhead is less, but one California-based startup looks forward to a future where companies may outsource production to low-Earth orbit. Made In Space, a company based in Mountain View, Calif., is developing plans for space factories that could float above Earth and build products more cheaply than is feasible down on our planet's surface.
The company has reported making some progress on its quest this year. In June, the company tested its manufacturing equipment for the first time in a vacuum chamber that simulated the microgravity of space.
The company also now has a $20 million partnership with NASA, whose researchers hope to turn Made In Space's experimental technology into orbital spacecraft as early as 2020.
"In-space manufacturing and assembling has been the stuff of science fiction and the dream of the industry for almost the entire existence of the industry," said Made In Space CEO Andrew Rush. "But now, for the first time, we're making these really transformative steps toward making that a reality."
Rush would like to see the rise of a "low Earth orbit economy" fostered by these orbiting manufacturing centers. The factories could be a great asset for space science, as welland maybe even the search for extraterrestrial lifesuggested Steve Jurczyk, associate director of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, who explained that if the factories could coordinate the building of a telescope in space, they could construct a bigger and more powerful telescope than humans could ever launch off Earth's surface.

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