Aug 17, 2017 | By Tess

Made In Space, the company behind the International Space Station’s Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF), recently announced that it has completed the third and final stage of its 3D printed Radiation Enclosure Monitor (REM) shield testing for radiation aboard the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

3D printed casing for REM sensor

The company has been working with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to additively manufacture a series of REM dome shields, each of which is being used to test for radiation on the ISS’ BEAM, an expandable module that has been in orbit for over a year now.

The 3D printed REM shields are part of the two-year testing process for BEAM to see if the expandable module could be viable for protecting humans in space.

The REM sensors are being used to “detect and gather” radiation measurements from space, as the ISS orbits around the earth. Radiation, as we know, is extremely harmful to humans, but it can also take its toll on material structures and space modules, such as BEAM.

The idea with the REM sensors aboard BEAM is to see where high radiation levels appear in orbit, and to better understand the phenomenon. The data collected from the REM sensors will help manufacturers to build better, more protected spacecrafts in the future.

Each of the three 3D printed dome shields, all printed from ABS, were manufactured with different material thicknesses (1.1 mm, 3.3 mm, 10 mm). These slight variations are enabling NASA and MIS to test which version of the dome shields are best for detecting radiation measurements and protecting the REM sensor.

As Made In Space explains, the 3D printed domes encase the REM sensor in an internal channel and their structure enables the REM sensor to pick up radiation measurements from all angles. For the tests, the ISS astronauts reportedly swapped the devices every few weeks between April and the end of June, when the project wrapped up.

“These relatively inexpensive and small tests will provide our customers with some valuable information on how to better design spacecraft to operate safely and more efficiently,” commented Matt Napoli, Made In Space’s vice president of In-Space Operations. “Another benefit to these tests is the fast, real-time access to data—NASA will know in a short timeframe how radiation is affecting these structures and at what level.”

Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM)

In addition to varying the thickness of the REM shields’ walls, the Made In Space team also made other modifications, including changing the mounting groove area for the device’s USB port.

“We have a number of product development interests related to this project,” said MIS President and CEO Andrew Rush. “The REM tests could lead to many improvements in spacecraft and habitat construction in the future. Right now, with our Archinaut development program, we’re working to manufacture and assemble large structures in space for the first time in history. Information from these tests will help us with our materials research and other capabilities development.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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