Ariane 6 Set to Launch Polymer 3D Printing Technology into Space


The Ariane 6 is an all-new design created to succeed the Ariane 5 as Europe’s heavy-lift launch system to support missions ranging from launching satellite constellations to deep space exploration.

Orbital Matter’s Replicator mission will be a key payload on this first Ariane 6 flight. The mission will test a new 3D printing technology designed to operate in the vacuum of space and under microgravity conditions. The 3D printer on board will produce a 50 cm-long (roughly 20 inches) beam from a custom polymer material while orbiting at 580 km or 360 miles. This will be the first time 3D printing is demonstrated in open space outside the ISS.

Orbital Matter’s 3D printing method works in a vacuum and microgravity without generating heat, significantly speeding up the process as it avoids the slow cooling period required in space. If successful, Replicator will demonstrate that complex structures can be built directly in space, opening up new possibilities for space construction and exploration.

Scheduled for its debut flight in July, the Ariane 6 is on track for its upcoming launch.

Read more about its launch here.