How a 3D printer will change life aboard the International Space Station


In 1970, an oxygen tank explosion forced NASA to abort the Apollo 13 lunar mission. The crew spent four tense days fighting their way back to Earth despite limited power, a water shortage and heat loss.

During their return, the crew members were forced to pile into one part of the spacecraft: the lunar module. Carbon dioxide levels began to rise, as the module was only equipped to carry two people for 30 hours, not three people for four days. They needed more carbon dioxide filters.

The crew had plenty of spares from another part of the spacecraft, but they were square; the lunar module relied on circular filters. A NASA engineer and his team spent two days back on Earth racing to find a way to make the extra filters compatible. The final solution called for duct tape, a towel, a plastic bag and a flight manual —…

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