PLASTIC FANTASTIC: Recycling is no space oddity

NASA has funded research into a 3D printer that can also act as a plastic recycler and is suitable for use in space. 

In the not too distant future, in a galaxy far, far away, a lonely astronaut sits inside his space shuttle, looking for something to do to bridge the long, long time til touchdown. Suddenly a voice cackles through the station: “This is ground control to Major Tom. Take your protein pills and put your 3D printer on.” It's that time of the day again – with no room for waste of or in space, Tom feeds the device with the plastic cup that contained his morning coffee, the plastic packet that held his freeze-dried breakfast – baked beans and a sunny side-up egg – and sets the device. It hums as the plastic is reprocessed into a screwdriver. The working day begins: First the door to the cupboard holding the helmet needs to be tightened. Then the screwdriver will have to be reprocessed into a small hose used to transfer some milk into the box containing the cocoa powder – without spilling any of course.

Major Tom sets off to work, thinking to himself, “There is nothing but endless possibility in the continuum of time and space.”


(Photo: Firmamentum)

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