Profile of Jason Dunn, Founder, Made in Space

Since he was a small little one, Jason Dunn has been excited about area and exploration. He watched the area shuttle launch close to his Florida dwelling and attended the College of Central Florida in Orlando to be close to NASA’s Kennedy Area Middle. It wasn’t till faculty, nonetheless, that Dunn grew to become satisfied that individuals of his technology may journey and reside in area.

Whereas in faculty, Dunn earned a bachelor’s and a grasp’s diploma in aerospace engineering and co-founded Earthrise Area Inc., the primary student-led workforce vying for the Google Lunar X Prize, a contest that guarantees a grand prize of $20 million to the primary workforce that succeeds in sending a industrial robotic spacecraft to the Moon by the top of 2015, touring throughout the lunar floor and sending again imagery.

In 2010, Dunn moved to California to discovered Made in Area, attend Singularity College and work for Moon Categorical, one other Google Lunar X Prize competitor.

Made in Area, an organization based mostly at Moffett Discipline, Calif., is concentrated on bringing additive manufacturing to area. With funding from NASA’s Small Enterprise Innovation Analysis program, Made in Area is getting ready to ship the primary 3-D printer to the worldwide area station in 2014.

Dunn spoke not too long ago with table4 correspondent Debra Werner.

What prompted your curiosity in changing into an area entrepreneur?

In faculty, I joined a membership referred to as College students for the Exploration and Growth of Area (SEDS). On the time I believed it was only a membership that constructed mannequin rockets as a result of that’s what this group did. However a 12 months later, my chapter held the nationwide convention referred to as Area Imaginative and prescient. There, I met Peter Diamandis and Bob Richards [two of the organization’s founders] and discovered that SEDS was greater than a rocketry membership.

Diamandis gave a chat and mentioned that inside our lifetimes we’d irreversibly go away this planet. That was the primary time someone informed me I may reside in area. That’s once I began to get within the concept of entrepreneurship — not simply working for NASA at some point on a giant workforce, however going out and creating one thing NASA and everybody else within the area trade wasn’t doing that will assist us get nearer to that future once we may reside in area.

Why did you begin Earthrise Area?

At one other SEDS Area Imaginative and prescient convention, I heard in regards to the Google Lunar X Prize. Then, I heard that one other scholar on the College of Central Florida needed to begin a workforce. I went to his first assembly. A few us who have been graduate college students ran the numbers and realized that someplace across the $20 million mark, you may be capable of do one in all these missions. So we created Earthrise Area to provide college students actual, hands-on expertise constructing spacecraft and flying spacecraft.

Why did you permit Earthrise Area?

I moved to California to begin Made in Area. On the similar time, I used to be employed as the primary challenge engineer at Moon Categorical, one other Google Lunar X Prize competitor co-founded by Bob Richards. It was an unimaginable alternative. I used to be the supervisor for all of the payloads. Moon Categorical is positioned at Moffett Discipline, close to Made in Area. It was a great way to kick-start Made in Area in typical Silicon Valley fashion.

Had been you acquainted with 3-D printing earlier than you began Made in Area? 

Being an aerospace engineer, I used to be all the time surrounded by it. I noticed it within the labs in school and at conferences. Then I graduated and wasn’t considering a lot about it. Singularity College helped deliver that again into focus. We began by wanting on the issues of the area trade. Whenever you get all the way down to it, the No. 1 downside is that the whole lot we’ve ever put in area has come from the underside of this gravitational properly. If you happen to may simply manufacture stuff in area, you get round that downside.

Did you suppose initially that you just’d be capable of modify terrestrial 3-D printers for microgravity?

After we began, we laid out a giant imaginative and prescient: At some point the whole lot you want in area could be constructed there. However we’ve to begin someplace. So we laid out the primary three steps to deliver manufacturing to area as rapidly as potential: Take the expertise to zero gravity, discover ways to make it work and adapt the expertise for the area station. Area station was crucial to us as a result of that’s the one place individuals truly reside in area right now. So if we can provide them the good thing about manufacturing, we will instantly present a use case.

As a result of the objective was to deliver manufacturing to area as rapidly as potential, we had excessive hopes we may make some very fundamental modifications to a industrial 3-D printer and fly it. By means of NASA’s Flight Alternatives Program, we flew dozens of business printers, in addition to one we constructed ourselves, on zero-gravity flights. None of them labored.

Why not?

These printers have been designed with gravity in thoughts. The construct platforms, belts and pulleys use gravity to carry them in place. Whenever you take away gravity, the whole lot begins to drift fractions of a millimeter. That throws off the print. On prime of that, thermal traits change whenever you take away gravity. It’s important to provide you with new methods to maintain issues sizzling and preserve issues chilly.

So what did you do?

On the finish of the day, it was apparent that we wanted to design a printer for zero gravity and for area station. NASA and the opposite area companies take care to verify the whole lot placed on the area station is extraordinarily secure and dependable. Not a single industrial 3-D printer in existence may meet the necessities. We must change the whole lot, together with all of the supplies.

What’s the schedule for the primary 3-D printer to be despatched to the area station? 

We’re beneath contract with NASA to ship two 3-D printers to area station. The primary one is a expertise demonstration to know the long-term results of microgravity on 3-D printing. Within the zero-gravity flights, we solely bought bursts of weightlessness for 20 seconds at a time. We have to perceive what occurs over an extended time frame earlier than we ship a way more succesful system for use for the lifetime of the area station.

What’s the schedule for the primary printer?

We’re partnered with Marshall Area Flight Middle. Made in Area builds the {hardware} and Marshall does the qualification, flight and implementation. Marshall has secured a flight on Area Exploration Applied sciences’ fifth industrial resupply mission. That’s scheduled round Aug. 1, 2014. We are going to ship the {hardware} to Marshall properly earlier than that, in all probability in early April. It’ll undergo qualification and flight readiness on the NASA facet earlier than it launches. We did a bunch of this qualification testing over the summer time with our engineering unit. It handed all of the preliminary assessments: vibration, electromagnetic interference. The printer may fly right now. We’re simply ready for launch.

How will components manufactured in area differ from these launched into orbit?

That’s some of the unimaginable points of Made in Area. With 3-D printing, complexity is free. Probably the most complicated object is simply as simple for the printer to construct as the only object. The printer doesn’t know the distinction.

The following fascinating factor is that launch necessities go away. All the things we’ve constructed to ship into area has been constructed with launch necessities in thoughts. It needed to survive vertical a great deal of 10-plus Gs throughout launch and vibration frequencies. It needed to match contained in the diameter of a rocket. All for an eight-minute journey into area. Then all the sudden, it’s in weightlessness, a very completely different setting.

With out these launch necessities, we will reinvent area mission structure. We will construct constructions which can be very complicated and may not even assist their very own weight on Earth. We will construct components which can be delicate, components that simply snap collectively. We don’t want fasteners and nuts and bolts anymore.

Can 3-D printers construct cubesats? 

We expect the reply is sure. We’ve had numerous authorities and industrial teams say they need to construct their cubesats in area. We’re working with NASA on this. At first, we will likely be sending digital elements and circuit boards into area, 3-D printing the satellite tv for pc construction, snapping the electronics into the construction and launching it that approach. It might not seem like a cubesat anymore, or perhaps it’ll. That’s open to whoever desires to construct it.

What’s forward for Made in Area?

The best way we have a look at it, we’re all the time making an attempt to anticipate the place additive manufacturing expertise is headed and determine find out how to use it for area. There’s a lot occurring behind the scenes in our analysis and growth group to pave the best way from this preliminary 3-D printer to additional manufacturing in area.

The primary printer will likely be helpful. It will likely be in a position to produce an estimated 30 % of the spare components used on the area station. However it’s only the start. It’s going to be a testbed for future applied sciences. We have now researchers how they’ll use it to check out the design and manufacturing of constructions they may at some point construct with a distinct machine.

Why do area missions want 3-D printers?

It’s about constructing a close-loop system for manufacturing so the crew doesn’t must depend on the bottom for assist. A 3-D printer on the area station is de facto helpful, however a 3-D printer on a Mars mission could also be completely needed. When NASA and personal teams have a look at find out how to ship individuals again to the Moon and ship individuals to Mars, these are the issues they’ve to contemplate. We’re engaged on Earth independency. What is going to it take to at some point construct the whole lot in area? Not simply instruments and spare components and even small satellites, however actually the whole lot.

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