NASA is seeking proposals for development of a first-generation, in-space, multi-material fabrication laboratory, or FabLab, for space missions. The FabLab solicitation is issued as Appendix B of the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Broad Agency Announcement.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) depends on manufacturing innovation to enhance its technical and scientific capabilities in aeronautics and space exploration. NASA will support the Manufacturing USA Program through funded research and development to help stimulate its mission-related capacity for innovation and economic growth within the government, at universities, and at industrial companies.
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) serves as the Agency’s principal organization supporting the Manufacturing USA Program. STMD rapidly develops, demonstrates, and infuses revolutionary, high-payoff technologies through transparent, collaborative partnerships, expanding the boundaries of the aerospace enterprise. By investing in bold, broadly applicable, disruptive technology that industry cannot tackle today, STMD seeks to mature the technology required for NASA’s future missions in science and exploration while proving the capabilities and lowering the cost for other government agencies and commercial space activities. These collective efforts give NASA the ability to do first of a kind missions and longer-term advancements in research and technology — those beyond what industry will take on and those focused on national advancement in aeronautics and space that also align with NASA’s role in the Manufacturing USA Program.
NASA will leverage the Manufacturing USA Program to support advanced manufacturing technology research and development as a critical means of addressing improved affordability, enhanced performance, and improved safety and reliability for NASA’s aerospace research and development efforts. NASA investments span low, mid, and high technology readiness levels (TRLs) through multiple NASA programs including Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), Game Changing Development, Technology Demonstration Missions, and other grant opportunities.
Advanced manufacturing research and development at NASA is focused in several areas: cutting-edge materials, additive manufacturing (3D printing), polymer matrix composites, metals processing/joining, robotics, computational physics-based modeling, non-destructive evaluation, and other highly specialized areas. This research and development is conducted through a combination of in-house activities at NASA centers, competitively funded research with universities and industry, and collaborations with other agencies, universities, and industry. The rapid infusion of advanced manufacturing technologies into mission applications is a major emphasis of NASA’s technology investment plan.
NASA is expanding its efforts to engage industry and academia on advanced manufacturing topics central to the nation’s space mission through its National Center of Advanced Manufacturing, with a particular focus to develop “technology testbeds” within its research facilities and manufacturing technologies that reduce the weight of materials during space flight.
NASA has participated in the Manufacturing USA since its inception and is committed to partnering with other participating agencies to identify key technical challenges in advanced manufacturing research and development, focus resources to address these challenges, and accelerate the development of advanced manufacturing breakthroughs and their translation into commercial products.