Up until recently, if you happened to be printing something at the International Space Station (ISS) you’d be doing it on a printer that was 17-years-old.
Mashable reports that printers have always been a critical part of the work on the ISS. The two printers installed on the station reportedly print roughly 1,000 pages per month. When the printer was new, astronauts were using 2000-era laptop computers and everything worked rather efficiently. As astronauts have started using newer and newer tech, the older printers (which were replaced as they broke with an identical model) have started to become problematic.
Next year, ISS will get two brand new printers created by HP. The printers were developed exclusively for NASA to be power efficient and flame retardant as well as to handle ink waste during printing and to be able to print and handle paper management in zero gravity.
The final result was a customized version of the HP Envy 5600. Two of the printers will be sent up to space in February 2018, and 48 of the retrofitted printers will remain on the ground to work as replacements should the installed printers fail.