Nearly 540 million miles away, NASA's Juno spacecraft just successfully entered Jupiter's orbit. Juno was launched almost 5 years prior and can travel up to 165,000 miles per hour, making it the fastest spacecraft to orbit a planet.
In order to achieve its goal of orbiting the largest planet in our solar system, NASA employed 3d printing techniques to manufacture Juno on the ground, making it the first spacecraft to launch with 3d printed parts. There are a dozen 3D-printed wave guide brackets made out of titanium alloy.
According to ComputerWorld, the use of 3d printing for Juno was validation for defense contractor Lockheed Martin, which hopes to build an entire spacecraft using 3d printing within the next decade.
“Ultimately the government is going to go to a new architecture, so by reducing the cost, it helps the government and it also helps get us to the future,” Rick Ambrose, head of Lockheed’s space business said this year about 3d printing.
Production speeds, cost and performance are all areas that Lockheed believes it can benefit from the use of 3d printing parts for satellites and other spacecraft.