NASA has invested $100,000 in SpiderFab, a firm that is looking at the feasibility of launching a 3DPrinter into space for stellar self-constructing stations and potentially massive ships with a greater degree of complexity than has currently been possible.
The benefit of such an approach is that there would be no need to worry about designing the ship to withstand lift-off, which massively complicates the current design processes and greatly increases the cost, nor requiring it to fold up into the confines of lift-off vehicles.
NASA believes the conceptual quantum leap of self-assembling ships could seek raw materials for assembly and thus self-repair, in space, from asteroids, or even recycle broken satellites in orbit.
The technology, as it developes, could lead to self-constructing satellites and telescopes, interstellar spacecraft, and much larger space stations.
2D-Printers on Earth are printing science-fiction -soon 3DPrinters in space will be printing the real thing.