ISS astronauts have been emailed a socket wrench

December 20, 2014 3:59 PM

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Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have had access to a special 3D printer designed for use in microgravity since September, when it was delivered by a SpaceX Dragon capsule. The device has been set up and used to create some test objects, but now NASA has relayed the first truly useful object to the ISS: a wrench. That might not sound like a big deal, but it’s not like there’s a hardware store around the corner from the station they can swing by.

Getting anything into space is expensive, even if it’s just a new ratcheting socket wrench. Mission planners have to account for every eventuality in space so the crew has what they need. Getting a new shipment of supplies to orbit can take months of preparation, but if you send up some plastic fila...

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