Spider Robots To Lower Cost Of Building In Space

One of the consistently difficult hurdles for space exploration is cost. With dwindling governmental support the initiative has moved toward the private sector. One company, Tethers Unlimited, is hoping to push the boundaries with new technology to enable the building large components in space. The spider robots, resembling spiders, are likely to see action within the decade.

Called SpiderFab, the company hopes to use their spider robots be able to reduce the cost of space exploration by moving the site of construction from Earth to orbit. It’s an ambitious project but CEO Rob Hoyt thinks it is only the beginning. He wants to move the idea of building to a more permanent basis in space. With the inclusion of significantly cheaper flights through SpaceX and Boeing, the near future may showcase how affordable space exploration and technology can become.

The difficulties of building on Earth are greater than just money and time. Getting past the gravity barrier incurs stress on both the finished product and the materials used in space exploration. Building in space forgoes the necessity of designing technology that can withstand both environments. While Tethers Unlimited is a small company, it has already received multiple contracts with NASA and performed in space experiments with Stanford University.

Spider Robots To Lower Cost Of Building In Space - Clapway

SpiderFab technology works similarly to the animal it is named after. Multi-armed spider robots would utilize materials through what the company calls a “trusselator”, which weaves a web-like design to maximize stability and minimize cost. Tethers Unlimited is hoping to work with NASA and the ISS to promote its structural capability.

Hoyt has proposed that his spider robots could be used to search for extra solar planets, if in an indirect way. It works like this. Stars are bright and if you can limit some of the light coming directly from them, it is possible to see the surrounding exoplanets. The team at Tethers Unlimited can build a “starshade” for telescopes, which do the grunt work of blocking out unwanted star light.

With more efficient production technology comes smaller rockets, which in turn increases the number of flights which can be achieved at a set amount of money. Hoyt wants his business to eventually promote the human exploration of greater distances in our Solar System and increase the possibility of permanent habitation.