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China makes its first 3D-printed objects in space

The achievement paves way for astronauts in China’s first permanent space station to create their own tools and spare parts on demand.

International Space Station International Space Station

China is one step closer to attaining self-sufficiency in space. The country has successfully printed its first 3D objects aboard the freshly launched manned spacecraft prototype, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The achievement paves way for astronauts in China’s first permanent space station, set to launch next year, to create their own tools and spare parts on demand. That will allow them to repair and expand the station without waiting for supplies from earth.

NASA became the first to 3D-print objects in space in 2014, when a printer brought to the International Space Station made a wrench that astronauts could use to do maintenance work. The ability to carry out 3D printing in space could also help with long-duration flights in the future. Both China and the US are expected to launch unmanned Mars missions in July that could help scientists answer questions around future human expeditions to the red planet.

This story was originally published by Abacus News.