The winning design in the International Space Station (I.S.S.) Design Challenge has been 3D-printed in space. The winning design, a satellite-launching device, is now in orbit and may one day be used by astronauts for a variety of missions. The news was announced by Mouser Electronics and Grant Imahara.
Cupertino (Calif.)-based engineer Andy Filo designed the device, which allows astronauts to launch femtosatellites (tiny satellites about the size of a postage stamp and weighing less than 100 grams) in zero gravity.
Scientists can use femtosatellites in many different missions and applications, including monitoring disasters, studying Earth’s environment, and even flying in formation to create a giant antenna for deep space analysis.
“Mouser is excited to be part of new and innovative projects that bring together engineers and makers from around the world and — in this case — beyond,” said Glenn Smith, President and CEO of Mouser Electronics. “Andy’s femtosatellite-launching device meets the needs of astronauts as well as Earthbound researchers and engineers.”
Filo’s femtosatellite project was chosen from 242 entries and digitally transmitted to the I.S.S., where it was 3D-printed on April 3 by Made In Space’s Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) — the first commercially available off-world manufacturing service and the only 3D printer adapted for use in the vacuum of space.
Made In Space and Filo made some last-minute modifications after I.S.S. received the original design, rounding the handle to increase usability and comfort and further editing the design to increase printing speed.
Filo and his creation are showcased in a video that features celebrity engineer Grant Imahara as the two visit the Made In Space 3D Printing Lab at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Mouser will soon release the final video in the I.S.S. Design Challenge series on Mouser’s YouTube channel as well as on the Empowering Innovation Together program page. The I.S.S. Design Challenge is one of several innovative series in the Empowering Innovation Together program, which features the Innovation Lab for new projects ranging from bringing superhero technology to life to 3D printing a semi-autonomous carwith drone technology.
Mouser suppliers Amphenol and Intel are co-sponsors of the I.S.S. Design Challenge. Mouser also partnered with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Made In Space, along with Hackster and MacroFab.