Manufacture in Space: A New Era of Advanced Materials Innovation

D. Panchanathan
Axiom Space,
United States

Keywords: space, manufacturing, crystals, innovation, semiconductors, space station, biomanufacturing


The commercial space economy is rapidly expanding and creating opportunities for ‘future cities in space’ where we will live and work off the planet. Axiom Space is leading the way by building the world’s first commercial space station, with a first module attached to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2026 that provides crew living quarters, external and internal payload capabilities, and state-of-the-art science and manufacturing facilities. This offers innovation opportunities for industry and academic researchers to perform applied research that leads to manufacturing of advanced materials in the low-Earth orbit (LEO) for electronics, energy, and biomedical applications. Microgravity and the extreme environment of space offer unique possibilities to achieve advanced materials innovation in ways that cannot be accomplished on Earth. Changes in fluid behavior such as the lack of buoyancy driven convection and sedimentation in microgravity lead to beneficial characteristics in materials like semiconductor crystals, 2D materials, and photonic materials, and colloids. Some demonstrated benefits of the LEO environment include growing defect-free crystals, diffusion-driven manufacturing, access to ultra-high vacuum, and containerless processing of materials. This talk will highlight: (1) the Axiom Space station and its capabilities; (2) manufacturing innovation using space; and (3) on-going partner projects in the area of in-space manufacturing.