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Russian Cosmonauts Release First Satellite Made Mostly By 3-D Printer

The International Space Station (file photo)

Russian cosmonauts released a satellite made almost entirely with a 3-D printer on August 17 in a first for the space program.

Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergei Ryazansky sent into orbit five small satellites on a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, one of which had an exterior casing and battery packs made with a 3-D printer.

The experiment was designed to determine whether printer-made parts will survive a space environment.

The 3-D satellite contains regular electronics and holds greetings in a variety of languages provided by students from Siberia's Tomsk Polytechnic University, where the satellite was made.

The satellites weigh 4.5 to 11 kilograms and are expected to orbit for five or six months.

One commemorates the anniversary of the world's first satellite, Sputnik 1, launched on October 4, 1957, by the Soviet Union. Another pays tribute to Russia's father of rocketry, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who was born 160 years ago.

The remaining two small satellites involve navigation and other experiments.

The cosmonauts also collected science experiments from outside the station, which orbits at 250 miles above the Earth.

Based on reporting by AP and TASS