How In-Space Manufacturing Could be the Next Industrial Revolution
December 02, 2022
Following their previous talk on Materials R&D in space, Sierra Space gave a second talk regarding space as a manufacturing platform for materials that simply cannot be realized on Earth. They began by discussing pathways from materials research to materials manufacturing in low-Earth orbit (LEO), showcasing how R&D will be succeeded by pilot scale manufacturing, that will hopefully finally give way to full-scale manufacturing in space. They then presented a case-study of semiconductor manufacturing as an industry that may benefit from in-space manufacturing, being an industry that relies heavily on immaculate materials with very few defects. As LEO is expected to be an excellent environment to pursue high-quality, low-defect crystal growth, Sierra Space envisioned a future where some of the growth processes for semiconductor manufacturing may be conducted in space. In general, low-mass, low-volume, and high-value materials manufacturing processes stand to benefit a great deal from the LEO manufacturing paradigm, as they are the most cost effective to send raw materials payloads up to space to later retrieve finished (or semi-finished) products. To get these raw materials up to space and the finished products down from space, Sierra is developing a number of “Dream Chaser” space planes that will be able to land on airplane runways.
Blogger: Mohamed Atwa