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NASA’s Secret Weapon: How AI is Revolutionizing Spacecraft Design and Saving Time and Money

Mar. 07, 2023.
1 min. read 6 Interactions

NASA's Secret Weapon: How AI is Revolutionizing Spacecraft Design and Saving Time and Money

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Lewis Farrell

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Highly curious about things that increase my awareness, expand my perception, and make me open to being a better person.

NASA’s Evolved Structures process uses artificial intelligence to design mission hardware that performs significantly better and is much lighter. A generative algorithm is used to create metal brackets and mounts for various space exploration missions. NASA engineer Ryan McClelland created the system, which generates almost bone-like organic shapes that can withstand higher structural loads than human-designed parts. Furthermore, the AI-designed components have up to ten times lower stress concentrations while reducing weight by up to two-thirds.

The design process is faster than NASA’s standard procedure, with as little as one week between design and production. The AI creates the design, tests it for performance, and runs a fabrication simulation to ensure that it can be manufactured. Based on the CAD model, the final design can be directly fed into a digital manufacturing process and machined by a standard CNC mill. The system still requires human input in the form of a detailed brief outlining the part’s requirements.

AI can help NASA save time and money during the design process, and McClelland believes it has the potential to drastically reduce the cost of developing complex space exploration systems. Given that NASA manufactures thousands of custom parts each year for its various missions, the Evolved Structures process will become standard practice when designing structural parts, electronics, and other subsystems within NASA’s instruments and spacecraft.

Source: Dezeen (link)
Images: MidJourney, Prompts by Lewis Farrell

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