Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract by Made in Space (MIS) to support Nasa’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) demonstration of the Archinaut robotic manufacturing and assembly platform.

The award represents the second phase of the Archinaut technology development programme. The Nasa-funded programme was first awarded in 2016.

Northrop Grumman resiliency and rapid prototyping vice-president Richard Stapp said: “Demonstrating additive manufacturing in space will open up new doors in the design and construction of space structures that to date have been limited by the volume of a launch vehicle.

“Effectively building structures in space is one of the next big steps in our continuous journey of space exploration.”

Archinaut’s flight demonstration mission aims to build two 10m solar arrays in orbit. This will be used to power a small satellite.

According to Northrop Grumman, the Archinaut system will be integrated into an ESPA class satellite bus before launching into space.

Once the system reaches space, the system will use its additive manufacturing capabilities and advanced robotics to manufacture and assemble the satellite’s power generation system.

This contract was awarded after a successful ground-based testing programme of Archinaut’s core additive manufacturing and robotic assembly technologies.

Northrop Grumman supported the first phase of the Archinaut development. It hosted the thermal vacuum testing at Space Park in California, which validated the technology readiness of Archinaut’s system in space.

Separately, Northrop Grumman has been granted a $274m indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) award for Nasa’s Environmental Test and Integration Services III contract.