Right now, most of what we send into space is built here on Earth. But soon, we may just send up raw materials and let robots do the building. This could be a major game-changer. Consider space telescopes. Today, they must be folded up to fit inside a rocket's nose cone. But if we can build them in orbit, cargo space isn't a factor. As long as we could figure out how to get the mirror elements up into space, a robot could build the rest of the enormous housing. Someday, we could even build entire spacecraft in space.
To try this out, we're turning to a hard-working robot named the Archinaut. It's essentially a 3D printer with robotic arms. According to the company behind it, the Archinaut will become a necessity: "A future in space that includes residences, industrial facilities, and transport stations needs platforms that allow us to manufacture and assemble large space systems in space."