Tomsk-TPU-120, a fully 3D printed CubeSat created by scientists at the Tomsk Polytechnic University, will be placed into orbit in 2017. This news was recently announced by Alexey Yakovlev, head of the Institute of High Technologies at Tomsk Polytechnic University in Russia.
In April 2016, the Tomsk-TPU-120, a 3D printed micro-satellite developed the scientists at Tomsk Polytechnic University, arrived safely at the International Space Station. Next month, the satellite sent test messages down to Tomsk Polytechnic as a gesture to celebrate the university’s 120th anniversary. Currently, the same team of scientists is preparing a 3D printed CubeSat to deploy into the orbit.
This CubeSat bears a handle and will be deployed into the atmosphere by Russian cosmonauts who will spacewalk on the event. This CubeSat may set a precedent for many more 3D printed CubeSats to follow. It would be a huge landmark for additive manufacturing if the launch of the 3D printed CubeSat goes as planned. In the words of Alexey Yakovlev, Tomsk-TPU-120 will be the first 3D printed satellite in the world, where the entire body of the satellite is 3D printed. If this project is successful, it would pave way for further projects of a similar kind. It would also reduce the development time and testing rounds and other costs associated with these mammoth projects.
3D printing has made the device light, resilient, and durable. The Cubesat will now open the way for similar small 3D printed satellites that will aid in the monitoring of agriculture, forest fires, climate etc. This satellite is almost ready for its July 2017 launch. Experiments were conducted with the satellite at the ISS and also at the ground. People even caught the radio signals of the satellites and posted updates on the internet. The CubeSat will be in the free atmosphere for six months, after which it will be destroyed in the atmosphere.