Barry Wilmore needed a wrench. Unfortunately, he was busy floating above Earth… so NASA emailed him one.
For the first time ever, NASA designed an object on Earth and then sent it to space to be manufactured. One day, International Space Station commander Barry Wilmore realized he didn’t have the tool he needed. Normally, he would have had to wait a few months until the next ISS mission came along, but guys with the nickname “Butch” don’t like to be kept waiting, and NASA knew just what to do.
They’d been in the middle of an experiment that proved very convenient for this particular situation. Astronauts in space have been using a 3D printer to manufacture objects, which they plan to bring home and compare to identical objects printed on Earth.
This will allow them to measure the effects of long-term microgravity on items made in outer space.
NASA realized the solution to their problem was simple: design a wrench with their CAD software, convert it to the right file format, and send it to Butch so it could be printed right there at the station. It sounds crazy, but NASA totally emailed a wrench into space.
Years from now, if you decide to move to Mars and forget to bring along your favorite Darth Vader action figure, you can just call Earth and have it mailed to you.
You can also be inter-planetary mega nerd… Or, dare I say, a tool?