Life on the International Space Station may never be the same. The crew is now unpacking the latest cargo delivery, which includes the station's first-ever 3D printer.
"Having that on-demand capability is a real game-changer," says Niki Werkheiser, NASA's 3D Printing in Zero-G project manager.
Astronauts will test how the printer performs in microgravity. Samples will be brought back to Earth, to confirm that the technology works the same as on the ground.
If it's successful, the ISS crew will no longer have to rely on resupply missions to bring them the tools they need.
And down the line, a 3D printer would also be a key part of deep space exploration missions.
"We won't be able to launch every single thing that we might ever need with us," Werkheiser says. "So we'll have to have sustainable technologies that allow the astronauts to be able to adapt and use whatever resources are available to them for living and operations."