"We are the first to attempt to build an entire instrument with 3D printing," said Jason Budinoff, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland.

Budinoff is building a 2-inch camera for a cubesat  a miniature satellite, space.com reported.

The camera will have to pass vibration and thermal-vacuum tests next year to prove that it's capable of space travel.

Budinoff is also using 3D printing to build a 14-inch dual-channel telescope. To build the 3D-printed instruments, first a computer-controlled laser melts down a pile of metal powder.

It then fuses the melted metal into a specific configuration determined by a 3D computer design.

The instruments are built and assembled layer by layer like slices of bread from a loaf. The 3D printers could reduce the overall cost of building space exploring instruments in the near future, the report added.

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