Mike Chen was a bit thoughtful. Commander Barry Willmore needed a wrench in the International Space Station. But how to send one in space?
Why, let's email it!
Unbelievable as it may sound, this was what they did to send the wrench from earth.
How? They used a 3D printer.
You might be wondering what 3D printing is. It is, basically, printing an object instead of images or letters. This is something like creating a ball using a printer, instead of printing just a picture of the ball.
Suppose, you put 50 identical sheets of paper on top of another. The heap will vaguely look like a box from the sides. 3D printing works somewhat in the same way, by printing something in layers.
It is an advanced technology that can be used to make—or print—anything we need, any time.
About this emailing, Mike Chen wrote on the internet:
We founded Made In Space, Inc. to design and build the first 3D printer for space. Our first printer was launched to the space station in September, and it printed its first object in November. The socket wrench we just manufactured is the first object we designed on the ground and sent digitally to space, on the fly.
Now how, exactly, did they do it?
It was simple, actually.
First, Chen's company made designs of the parts of that wrench using a software. Then they sent the designs to NASA.
NASA sent it to the space station.
In the station, the designs were received by the 3D printer. Then it manufactured the wrench layer by layer.
After the "printing" was complete, an astronaut just took it out from inside the printer.
There you have the famous wrench, the first one to be emailed to space!
How cool is that?