If you look at the challenge of building a factory in space, there are many challenges - some examples:
- Lathes and other industrial equipment is heavy, thus expensive to lift. Weight is often helpful for vibration dampening
- Pumps want some static pressure at the inlet to avoid cavitation, this is often simply gravity head
- The vast majority of liquid-gas phase reactors I'm aware of use gravity to seperate the liquid from the gaseaous phase
- Industrial processes generate inconvenient dirt, in zero-g this can get anywhere even more so than on earth
- Temperature changes of the environment may be more extreme than on earth, a convenient heat sink for low-temp process heat is generally not available
- Movement of machines may impart a torque on the spacecraft
I could probably list more. For most of them, I could easily think of a solution, most solutions would add mass. Some could be solved by adding gravity by spinning the craft, leading to new interesting problems (and probably adding mass)
My question is: Has anyone done extensive research into what it would mean to build and operate a factory in space?
What are the key findings and what are the key open questions?