Enterprise In Space Program Announces Winners for Its Print The Future Competition to 3D Print on International Space Station

In order to drive innovation forward in space manufacturing technology, Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS), has chosen the grand-prize-winning university students in its “Print The Future” competition. Announced at its 36th annual NSS International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®) in St. Louis, Missouri last weekend, the winner is Team ProtoFluidics’ microfluidic modules from University of Pennsylvania. Undergraduate students Adam Zachar, Laura Gao and Jaimie Carlson designed 3D-printable modules that enable rapid prototyping of microfluidic experiments aboard the ISS.

Through the “Print The Future” competition, EIS-along with Kepler Space Institute, Made In Space (MIS), Sketchfab, 3D Hubs, and Prairie Nanotechnology offered university teams a chance to 3D print a NewSpace experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS). University teams were invited to create designs that push the bounds of 3D printing in microgravity to serve humanity in expanding its presence among the stars.

Adam Zachar, Laura Gao and Jaimie Carlson from Team Proto Fluidics, Hyung Jin Yoo from Team H2, and Hasan Latif from Team Bengal Tigers standing with Mike Snyder of Made In Space, John Quinn from EXOS Aerospace and Edward Kiker from Kepler Space Institute.
Adam Zachar, Laura Gao and Jaimie Carlson from Team Proto Fluidics, Hyung Jin Yoo from Team H2, and Hasan Latif from Team Bengal Tigers standing with Mike Snyder of Made In Space, John Quinn from EXOS Aerospace and Edward Kiker from Kepler Space Institute.

In this competition, winners were chosen based on the scientific and engineering merit, commercial potential, and originality of the designs. “With our 3D-printable microfluidic modules, researchers can easily design custom microfluidic circuits to conduct experiments for disease diagnosis, chemical analysis, protein crystallization, and more, capitalizing on the microgravity on station,” said Adam Zachar. “This process allows researchers to bypass the cost of fabricating and transporting conventional microfluidics to orbit,” he said.

Zachar added, “The most valuable economic advantages to 3D printing microfluidics on the ISS are the immense time and cost savings to researchers. Currently, sending a microfluidic experiment up to the ISS can cost as much as $27,000 for the launch and up to 12 months of wait time. 3D printing could significantly reduce these costs and delays by allowing researchers to fabricate their experiments on station, bypassing the launch completely.”

Team ProtoFluidics (L-R): Jaimie Carlson, Adam Zachar and Laura Gao
Team ProtoFluidics (L-R): Jaimie Carlson, Adam Zachar and Laura Gao.

Team ProtoFluidics will work with MIS to 3D print their project on Earth as a test before printing aboard the ISS. The project will be 3D printed on the ISS before the end of the year. The project will be returned to Earth, where the winner will be able to leverage Prairie Nanotechnology’s advanced research equipment to study the results.

One member of the grand prize team will also receive the R.S. Kirby Memorial Scholarship, valued at $5,000, from the Kepler Space Institute to be applied towards a full certificate program. The R.S. Kirby Memorial Scholarship aims to encourage space advocates the world over.

The first place runner up was Team H2’s H2 Capsule. University of Pennsylvania Masters students Hyung Jin Yoo and Haimin Yie created a capsule that early Mars Explorers can use to store objects and media to convey their stories and personalities to future generations, as a means of confronting and accepting death as a possible outcome of their mission.

The second place runner up was Team Bengal Tigers’ Multi-Purpose Wrench. North Carolina State University PhD student Hasan Latif and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Masters students Habibur Rahman, Ankhy Sultana, Shourav Ahmed and Tavila Sharmin designed a 3D printable tool that reduces the need for multiple different tools required for loosening and tightening various sizes of nuts, bolts and screws.

All finalist teams presented their experiments at the ISDC®. All finalist entries are on display on the popular 3D modeling community Sketchfab. To learn more about the competition, visit the contest page at enterpriseinspace.org/print-the-future. EIS thanks all who have participated in our competition this year.

Enterprise In Space Program Partners with EXOS Aerospace to Send Experiments into Space

Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS) will soon launch several experiments into space aboard a suborbital flight using reusable rocket technology.

EXOS SARGE launch vehicle
EXOS SARGE launch vehicle

As a demonstration of EIS’ NewSpace education program, the experiments draw from the different areas of the educational spectrum, middle school education and postgraduate research. In partnership with EIS’ higher education-focused Enterprise Centers for Excellence program, the Center for Applied Space Technology (CAST) has designed a biological microgravity experiment for postgraduate research into space medicine. Using a Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) 100, featuring nine petri dishes, CAST believes its experiment will have both terrestrial applications and uses during long-duration space flight.

Within the broader EIS Academy, EIS worked with Andrew Goodin’s Building Creative Confidence class at Grand Center Arts Academy to design an entry-level experiment that introduces middle school students to lessons in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) education. These include experiments related to such things as using the heat of space to melt crayons into space art and determining the effects of the space environment on maple tree seeds that will be grown back on Earth when returned from space.

To house the experiments, Goodin’s class had to quickly produce a 3D-printed container that met the criteria of EXOS’ SARGE launch vehicle. The class was able to rapidly 3D print the special-made cube housing using the school’s Ultimaker 3D printer before putting the container through a drop test to ensure that it would survive the spacecraft’s journey into suborbital space. This team of 24 students operated at a space race pace. From concept to payload delivery took the team less than two months. The experiment will be launched in late May.

“Reusable rocket technology makes it possible to cut the launch waiting period for a payload dramatically, while also reducing costs,” said EXOS Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer John Quinn. “This lowers the barriers for the types of NewSpace education experiments made possible by EIS.”

EXOS Aerospace

The results of the biological experiment will be published online in the Enterprise Center for Excellence for Regenerative Medicine for Long Duration Space Flight, where university through postgraduate students in the EIS Academy will have access to the material to advance their education. Additionally, EXOS will work with EIS to create an educational K-12 curriculum for the EIS Academy (www.eisacademy.org), as the two partners further develop a long-term relationship.

Both experiments will be launched into space as payloads aboard EXOS’ next suborbital rocket launch, slated for late May at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Upon the successful completion of the launch, EXOS will present on its results at the upcoming International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®) in St. Louis, MO, May 25-29, 2017. As a capstone event, EXOS will also hand-deliver the space-flown experiment package to the students.

Pictures and Video:

EXOS Aerospace | Space Available. – https://youtu.be/-xyDxOvSjug
Enterprise Centers for Excellence and the NewSpace Economy – https://youtu.be/53PvHotBGeE

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Experiments designed by Andrew Goodin’s Building Creative Confidence class at Grand Center Arts Academy, along with the 3D-printed capsule in which they will be stored. Experiments include: crayons that will melt to form space art, popcorn that will pop in the heat of space and sticky notes, to determine if the space environment reduces their adhesion.

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Students from Andrew Goodin’s Building Creative Confidence class at Grand Center Arts Academy, along with the 3D-printed capsule and their experiments.

Enterprise In Space Program Announces Finalists for Its “Print the Future” & Orbital Space Debris Competitions

In order to drive innovation forward in space manufacturing technology and space orbital debris mitigation and remediation, Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS), challenged university students from around the world in two NewSpace competitions. EIS and its partners are now proud to announce the finalists for the Print the Future and Orbital Debris Mitigation competitions.

EIS Print the Future

Through the “Print the Future” competition, EIS – along with Kepler Space Institute, Made In Space (MIS), Sketchfab, 3D Hubs, and Prairie Nanotechnology – offered university teams a chance to 3D print a NewSpace experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS). University teams were invited to create designs that push the bounds of 3D printing in microgravity to serve humanity in expanding its presence among the stars.

EIS and its judges have now selected three finalist teams for the competition based on the scientific and engineering merit, commercial potential, and originality of the designs. The finalists are:

  • Team Bengal Tigers’ Multi-Purpose Wrench: North Carolina State University PhD student Hasan Latif and Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology Masters students Habibur Rahman, Ankhy Sultana, Shourav Ahmed and Tavila Sharmin designed a 3D printable tool that reduces the need for multiple different tools required for loosening and tightening various sizes of nuts, bolts and screws. See on Sketchfab.
  • Team H2’s H2 Capsule: University of Pennsylvania Masters students Hyung Jin Yoo and Haimin Yie created a capsule that early Mars Explorers can use to store objects and media to convey their stories and personalities to future generations, as a means of confronting and accepting death as a possible outcome of their mission. See on Sketchfab.
  • Team ProtoFluidics’ Microfluidic Modules: University of Pennsylvania undergraduate students Adam Zachar, Laura Gaoand and Jaimie Carlson designed 3D-printable modules that enable rapid prototyping of microfluidic experiments aboard the ISS. See on Sketchfab.

All finalist entries are on display on the popular 3D modeling community Sketchfab and have their projects prototyped free-of-charge through 3D Hubs, a network of 3D printing services. All finalists will compete for the grand prize by presenting their experiments at the National Space Society’s 2017 International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®) in St. Louis, Missouri May 25-29. NSS invites the public to attend the conference to view the presentations and see who wins.

The grand prize winner will work with MIS to 3D print their project on Earth as a test before printing aboard the ISS. The project will be returned to Earth, where the winner will be able to leverage Prairie Nanotechnology’s advanced research equipment to study the results. Three members of the grand prize team will also receive R.S. Kirby Memorial Scholarships, valued at $5,000, from the Kepler Space Institute to be applied towards a full certificate program. The R.S. Kirby Memorial Scholarship aims to encourage space advocates the world over.

EIS Orbital Debris Mitigation

The Orbital Debris Competition is a collaboration of EIS with Kepler Space Institute and Global Aerospace Corporation (GAC). EIS invited university student teams to submit white papers about detecting, tracking or collecting orbital debris. EIS and its judges have selected the finalist for the competition based on scientific and technical merit, feasibility of the proposals, and relevance to the competition’s objective. The sole qualifying finalist submission comes from Team SURE of India. Team members Subham Panda, Udit Vohra, and Reuben Georgi proposed a method for performing orbital debris detection and mitigation using infrared sensors and viscous fluid force.

Team SURE has received an honorable mention for the competition and has been invited to attend the ISDC. For an opportunity to present at the event, the team will be given a chance to submit a presentation that meets the criteria of the ISDC.

To learn more about the competitions, visit the contest pages at enterpriseinspace.org/print-the-future and enterpriseinspace.org/space-debris. EIS thanks all who have participated in our competitions this year.

Enterprise In Space & Kepler Space Institute Sponsor Competition to Tackle Orbital Debris

Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS), and the Kepler Space Institute have partnered with Global Aerospace Corporation (GAC) to launch the “Orbital Debris Mitigation” competition. In order to drive innovation forward in technology to remove the space debris orbiting Earth, EIS and its partners are offering university student teams a chance to propose experiments for space debris mitigation.

orbital-debris-mitigation-competition-banner

To enter the contest, university student teams may submit a white paper in either one of two competition categories. Category one is to design an experiment that fits on a CubeSat to detect, track or collect orbital debris. The second is to design an experiment to help evaluate the performance of GAC’s Gossamer Orbit Lowering Device (GOLD) that will de-orbit a CubeSat. To learn more about the competition, see the video presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AA5T7A70CVs .

“Currently, there are over 500,000 pieces of space debris orbiting the Earth and traveling up to 17,500 miles per hour, potentially causing serious damage to any satellite or spacecraft,” said Kerry Nock, President of GAC. “At GAC, we have invented a device for removing this debris called GOLD which uses a lightweight, continuously inflated envelope to increase the drag area and accelerate the natural orbital decay process of antiquated satellites and large orbital debris by orders of magnitude.”

Up to three members of the grand prize winning team will receive complimentary registration to present their white papers at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference ® (ISDC), May 25-29, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. Grand prize winners will have their experiment results paper published in Ad Astra magazine and an industry trade journal for orbital space debris mitigation and remediation. One member of the grand prize team will also receive an R. S. Kirby Memorial Scholarship, valued at $5,000, from the Kepler Space Institute to be applied towards a full certificate program. The R. S. Kirby Memorial Scholarship aims to encourage space advocates the world over.

To learn more about the Orbital Debris Mitigation Competition or to enter, visit the contest page at enterpriseinspace.org/space-debris and become a part of NewSpace future.

Enterprise In Space and Kepler Space Institute Launch Competition for University Teams to 3D Print Aboard the International Space Station

Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS), and the Kepler Space Institute have partnered with Made In Space (MIS), Sketchfab, 3D Hubs, and Prairie Nanotechnology to launch the “Print the Future” competition. In order to drive innovation forward in space manufacturing technology, EIS and its partners are offering university teams a chance to 3D print a NewSpace experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

MIS has made history by installing two 3D printers aboard the ISS, including the Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF), the first commercial 3D printer in space. As humanity expands its exploration of the cosmos, 3D printing in microgravity will be a key NewSpace technology for manufacturing goods away from Earth.

“An essential technology to extending humanity’s reach in space is in-space manufacturing,” said NSS Director and Made In Space Co-Founder and Chief Engineer Michael Snyder. “By manufacturing new designs in space, we’ll be able to forgo the high cost of shipping supplies by rocket and instead fabricate them directly in microgravity.”

For the Print the Future competition, university teams are encouraged to push the bounds of 3D printing in microgravity to craft new designs that will serve humanity in expanding its presence among the stars. Designs should meet the requirements of the AMF aboard the ISS and demonstrate concepts that can aid the human species in interplanetary transport, construction, and habitation.

All entries will be submitted and displayed on the popular 3D modeling community Sketchfab. While finalists will have their projects prototyped free of charge through 3D Hubs, a network of 3D printing services, all contestants are encouraged to iterate designs via 3D Hubs as well.

The grand prize winner will work with MIS to 3D print their project on Earth before printing aboard the ISS. The project will be returned to Earth, where the winner will be able to leverage Prairie Nanotechnology’s advanced research equipment to study the results. Three members of the grand prize team will also receive R.S. Kirby Memorial Scholarships valued at $5,000 each at the Kepler Space Institute to be applied towards a full certificate program. The R.S. Kirby Memorial Scholarships aim to encourage space advocates the world over and to develop technologies, laws, philosophies, and a moral and societal framework to aid the global community in extending life through our solar system and beyond.

“We’ve all seen those exciting sci-fi films in which the human species has colonized the galaxy and is exploring space in order to answer life’s deepest questions,” said NSS President and EIS Program Manager Alice Hoffman. “But if we’re ever going to be able to pull that off, we still have to develop the NewSpace technologies that will make interplanetary travel and colonization possible. And we’ll need to train the next generation to drive those technologies even further.”

To learn more about the Print the Future competition or to enter, readers may visit the contest page at enterpriseinspace.org/print-the-future where entrants can become a part of NewSpace history.

Enterprise In Space Partners with Sketchfab and 3D Hubs for NewSpace Education

Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS), is thrilled to announce two new partnerships with 3D Hubs and Sketchfab to further develop the world’s first NewSpace education program.

EIS is embarking on a bold initiative to establish a next generation educational model in which students from K-postgrad are given open access to high quality education using cutting edge technologies. Through the online EIS Academy, students of all grade levels work with skilled educators, NASA scientists, and NewSpace innovators to learn science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) skills, all with the help of an AI tutor named Ali. The program’s first Academy-wide project is the design, construction, launch, and retrieval of the 3D-printed NSS Enterprise spacecraft, which will blast into Earth orbit carrying 100+ student experiments.

Sketchfab and 3D Hubs have joined EIS in its mission by offering their knowledge and resources. Sketchfab is the leading community devoted to 3D modeling and 3D scanning for use in augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D printing, and more. The company will provide professional accounts to educators and students participating in EIS international education competitions.

3D Hubs is the world’s largest distributed network for 3D printing services. Offering a variety of additive manufacturing technologies, 3D Hubs allows anyone to 3D print prototypes, end parts, and other goods locally and on demand. For EIS competitions, 3D Hubs will make available its vast network to provide prototyping and 3D printing services on demand to participating students.

The Enterprise Centers for Excellence (ECEs) are housed within the EIS Academy. These now span ten cutting edge topics from space-based solar power to tissue regeneration in microgravity. They offer university and postgraduate students the opportunity to collaborate with high-level researchers and NewSpace companies to learn advanced technologies and develop experiments for the NSS Enterprise spacecraft.

The Sketchfab team is made up of the ideal experts for heading up the ECE for Virtual and Mixed Reality. The 3D Hubs team will join Made In Space to run the ECE on Space Additive Manufacturing, contributing their extensive knowledge of 3D printing. Both firms will populate the ECEs with educational content and work with the EIS education team to develop curricula in their respective subjects of expertise.

EIS and its new partners have already begun work on a new project that will come to fruition in the very near future. Stay tuned and follow the progress of the historic EIS program or donate at www.enterpriseinspace.org.

Enterprise In Space: A Tutor for Every Child, video presentation for the MacArthur Foundation 100&Change Grant.

The President of the National Space Society describes how many children around the world lack access to a basic education and how ValueSpring Technology is developing an artificial intelligence that will be a tutor for each person, thus helping to bring about the world that Gene Roddenberry imagined, where everyone is able to contribute to his or her full potential. This project is being submitted in competition for a $100 million MacArthur Foundation grant to fund a single proposal that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time.

NSS and Enterprise in Space Lauded for Contributing to the Future of Education

This article was originally published here on Engineering.com and reproduced with permission.

There are currently over 100 million students waiting to become the next generation of engineers, rocket scientists and astrophysicists to get humans from Earth to Mars and beyond, but they may not be able to fulfill their potential simply due to a lack of access to a quality education. According to a study from UNESCO, more than 100 million young people worldwide, 62 to 66 million of whom are girls, are not attending school of any kind. Hundreds of millions more are unable to afford good-quality or safe schools.

However, groups like OneWeb and ONE are aiming to provide universal Internet access worldwide by 2020, greatly expanding the ability to use educational resources online. Nevertheless, Internet access does not guarantee a quality education.

To address this problem, imagine if there was a massive, free online academy where any student or teacher with broadband could learn science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) from educators around the globe, as well as the greatest minds in their fields, including NASA scientists, cutting-edge researchers and NewSpace engineers? On top of that, what if they had an artificially intelligent tutor and mentor to guide them in their learning?

That’s what Enterprise In Space (EIS) is trying to achieve, and it all begins with one giant class science project: the design, launch and recovery of a 3D-printed spacecraft that will orbit Earth with 100+ active and passive student experiments and a link to an AI to help the students run them and analyze their data.

 

To pull it off, EIS, a nonprofit program of the National Space Society, has drawn up the plans, put together an expert team of space veterans, raised $27.5 million in in-kind donations and partnered with some of the biggest names in the NewSpace industry. Now, all it needs is $32 million to put the plan in motion and set a course for the stars.

NewSpace Education

To engage students in STEAM education and space exploration, EIS is hosting contests and enlisting students from all grade levels—kindergarten all the way through postgraduate education—to design experiments to be flown aboard a 3D-printed orbiter dubbed the NSS Enterprise. From now until the spacecraft is launched in 2019 or 2020, the winning experiments will be used as the basis for online curricula and lesson plans to populate EIS’ massive open online course platform, known as the EIS Academy.

Once launched, the NSS Enterprise will orbit our planet for up to one month, carrying not only the experiments, but also Ali, an advanced artificial intelligence that will manage the active experiments. Ali will also serve as the voice of the spacecraft, allowing student teams on Earth to engage with the AI platform using natural language. In fact, Ali will eventually act as a personal tutor to students from around the world.

NSS_Engineering.comThe EIS Academy will be overseen by EIS Education Manager Lynne F. Zielinski, one of the most decorated space educators in the world, who has mentored students to fly experiments in space for the past 26 years. In speaking with ENGINEERING.com, Zielinski said that the program will not only give students the tools to become engineers, but EIS will train teachers as well. “The whole wrap around here is two-fold: engineering the over 100 student experiments to be sent into space and to tap into the processes necessary to create STEAM learners,” Zielinski explained. “To do that, teachers need training so they can excite the students. A lot of teachers are not necessarily science, technology, engineering or math teachers, and these teachers tend to feel intimidated or shy away from teaching in these disciplines, like art, history or elementary school teachers. They really don’t have an engineering background, so two of the things we want to do is show them that what they teach relates to the technical fields and give them some of the basic engineering knowledge needed to help their students design experiments to fly in space. In short, we want to give them confidence!”

She continued, “When we show them how easy it is—and it really is very easy if our engineering is done right—they feel confident enough to teach their students how to design their experiments. That’s the key and one of the things that makes us so different from other programs. When they’re concentrating on STEM and not STEAM, they’re only focusing on things that are scientifically significant or interesting. We’re not. We’re saying it can be very, very simple. It can include some artwork, some music, anything. We encourage people to be bold and step out of the perceived norm and their comfort zone.”

Higher Level Education

The EIS Academy will serve not only elementary, middle and high school learners, but also university, doctorate and postdoctoral students as well. EIS will host competitions seeking experiments dedicated to advancing the state of the art in 10 areas. The contest teams will utilize and submit proposals within the Enterprise Centers for Excellence (ECE), where expert researchers and cutting-edge businesses will curate an extensive database of knowledge related to exciting topics such as space-based additive manufacturing, space-based solar power, stem cell research and more.

Zielinski explained that the additive manufacturing, space solar power and orbital space debris mitigation and remediation ECEs are already well developed. Two competitions are nearly ready to launch and will see students at the university and postdoc level participating with established NewSpace businesses to pursue some very challenging scientific concepts.

In the case of the space solar power ECE, hosted in partnership with Ohio University, SPACE Canada and the Canadian Space Society, the winning team will actually send an experiment aboard the NSS Enterprise that will test the ability to generate solar power in space, such as collecting sunlight aboard the spacecraft and delivering power wirelessly to a freeflyer for its mission orbiting Earth.

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Eight of the projects that will serve as the basis for the Enterprise Centers for Excellence. (Image courtesy of EIS.)

In the case of the orbital space debris mitigation and remediation ECE, the team will work with Nicola Sarzi-Amadè and Global Aerospace Corporation to utilize the company’s Gossamer Orbit Lowering Device to deorbit debris in space.

Zielinski described an ECE as “a place where a wide variety of groups of people with the same interest and different disciplines can all come together and work together on that topic with the best information that we can get our hands on.” Features of the ECEs include:

  • A resource area populated with numerous papers that have all been vetted as the best resources associated with a given topic
  • A cyber library (“Cybrary”)
  • An online journal that publishes juried and approved research and student papers
  • An ephemeral board in which cross-curriculum visitors can present ideas related to the topic
  • A question-and-answer area with access to STEAM mentor

Ali the Artificial Intelligence

While students will be able to monitor the progress of their experiments aboard the NSS Enterprise, the complete EIS Academy will be made open to the public, with students and teachers anywhere able to rely on Ali as a personal tutor and mentor.

In many school systems around the world, students have new teachers with every grade level. In turn, the knowledge, interests and learning style of a student will have to be picked up by new teachers year after year. Teaching coursework for different student learning styles is difficult. Ali, however, will be able to accompany every student as they grow and act as a tool for teachers to address the needs of their classroom more quickly.

At the same time, students will also be able to access Ali on their own time. That way, any topic that isn’t addressed in class can be addressed by the AI. Additionally, Ali can direct the student to a teacher in the EIS Academy who can provide him or her additional topic information in greater depth.

Ali will be built by Value Spring Technology using the firm’s enterpriseMind platform, an AI capable of deciphering and contextualizing natural human language similar to the way that the human mind works. Thus, students and teachers will be able to speak with Ali naturally. More importantly, Ali will be able to adapt to the student, learning his or her needs and modifying the teaching style as the student develops. In an upcoming article, Bill Doyle, one of the inventors of enterpriseMind, will provide greater detail about exactly how the technology works.

3D Printing a Spacecraft

The design for the NSS Enterprise is no ordinary spacecraft. Chosen through a crowdsourcing campaign, the winning submission was from Stanley Von Medvey. The design is meant to be inspired by science fiction, and once it goes into orbit, it will be the first spacecraft with the name “Enterprise” flown in space. The spacecraft’s sci-fi geometry, however, is unlike any typical satellite or shuttle, opening up new manufacturing opportunities and engineering challenges.

The science fiction-inspired design for the NSS Enterprise was chosen through a crowdsourcing contest. (Image courtesy of EIS.)
The science fiction-inspired design for the NSS Enterprise was chosen through a crowdsourcing contest. (Image courtesy of EIS.)

Made In Space, famous for now installing two 3D printers aboard the International Space Station, has been selected as the prime contractor for the construction of the NSS Enterprise. The company will leverage its expertise with additive manufacturing to 3D print the airframe of the spacecraft. To do so, Made In Space will use a modular approach, breaking the design down into individual, components before printing them and assembling them into the complete NSS Enterprise.

This method will both allow the team to print the pieces of the spacecraft on a smaller 3D printer and give the EIS team the ability to configure payloads, including perishable experiments that will needed to be loaded into the NSS Enterprise just before launch.“Remember the game Tetris?” Zielinski asked. “That’s kind of how I envision the experiment modules inside the NSS Enterprise. They’re going to be different shapes and sizes, but they’re all going to fit very nicely and neatly together. Depending on the experiments that are going inside of them, the modules should be 3D printed and screwed together. The educators need to work with the engineers.”

The ability to 3D print a modular, satellite-style spacecraft will also act as a demonstrator for a new technology that Made In Space is developing for NASA, a process for 3D printing and assembling large-scale structures, like satellites, from the International Space Station. If Made In Space is able to 3D print the NSS Enterprise, which is estimated to measure 8 feet long and weigh 1,000 pounds, the firm may also be able to 3D print satellites aboard the International Space Station.

Made In Space Co-Founder and Chief Engineer Michael Snyder elaborated on how the EIS program relates to the activities of his firm, “Made In Space is currently exploring a number of methods for the microgravity additive manufacturing of structures that will ultimately be deployed in space from the ISS. While fabrication of the NSS Enterprise spacecraft will not take place aboard the ISS, the project will further demonstrate 3D printing as a viable method for manufacturing structures meant to survive the harsh environment of space.”

Flying the Orbiter

To get the NSS Enterprise into low-Earth orbit (LEO), EIS is currently in talks with private space companies to determine if the orbiter can be carried as a secondary payload on a commercial launch vehicle. If so, the spacecraft will be deployed into LEO and coast in free drift for most of its journey, though cold gas thrusters or gyros will be used to orient the orbiter as onboard experiments dictate, say to pick up video of the Earth for a geography class.

“One of the biggest issues, I think, is reentry,” explained Fred Becker, EIS chief engineer. Becker is a former NASA engineer who has worked on a dozen space missions, including the New Horizons Pluto mission. “A lot of that depends on the final design of the spacecraft, which is dependent on the type of launch vehicle we can get. We’re still trying to decide if the spacecraft will have more of a capsule shape or a space plane shape and whether or not it will feature a protective clamshell.”

A diagram depicting the mission of the NSS Enterprise. (Image courtesy of EIS.)

If EIS determines that the NSS Enterprise will more closely resemble a capsule, the physics of reentry are less complex. At a certain altitude, a parachute deploys and the capsule simply falls back to Earth. A spaceplane, on the other hand, would land more like the Space Shuttle, a longer, slower reentry with the spacecraft banking left and right before a parachute deploys and the NSS Enterprise coasts to its target on land.

For reentry, the spacecraft won’t be controlled from the ground, but through onboard sensing and a predetermined programming. Of course, the EIS crew, which is still scouting their mission control outpost, will be able to take over manual control if necessary, but Becker said that he hopes to program the spacecraft to execute a reentry program after it has been in orbit after a certain amount of time, at which point a kick motor will redirect it towards Earth.

EIS is working with partner company Terminal Velocity Aerospace, a subsidiary of satellite design company SpaceWorks Enterprises, to develop the ablative coating or clamshell that will protect the spacecraft during reentry. SpaceWorks, too, is in on the project and has helped the EIS team to draw up the preliminary physics calculations for the design of the NSS Enterprise.

Once EIS finds a launch provider and the $32 million necessary to begin construction on the spacecraft, SpaceWorks will finalize the designs and hand them off to Made In Space and asteroid mining company Deep Space Industries to build the orbiter.

Funding NewSpace Education

NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman has watched the EIS program develop since it was adopted by the NSS early on. As the Chief System Engineer in the NASA Space Portal Office and the Emerging Space Office at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Pittman has worked on countless NASA projects and played a key role in the commercialization of space.

About EIS, Pittman said, “The Enterprise In Space program is an exciting opportunity to simultaneously advance cutting edge technologies, while getting students from around the world engaged in STEAM and space education. The National Space Society is proud to have EIS as our flagship spaceflight program and we look forward to the remarkable results that will flow from its successful completion.”

Of course, to successfully complete its mission, EIS must obtain funding, which is a crucial variable in the ultimate design of the spacecraft, according to Alice Hoffman, EIS program manager. Hoffman has worked as project manager on such complex projects as the $6.2 billion expansion of Chicago O’Hare airport and the Chicago Bears’ $660 million Soldier Field.

 “What’s different about this is that our project schedule and our engineering are based on the ability to afford it,” Hoffman said. “Our project schedule and everything else is tied to receiving sufficient donations to go forward with certain aspects of the project. You always work backwards from the goals of the client, and our goal is to get kids interested in studying STEAM by showing them the future of what is possible in space and what sorts of jobs they might have in the NewSpace economy. That doesn’t have to be an 8-foot ship. It could be a smaller ship. The bigger ship gives us the ability to fly more serious experiments, and we want to do that, but you have to be realistic about what you can afford.”

The amount of funding the program can obtain, then, is factored into the ultimate design of the spacecraft, something that was taken into account when approaching SpaceWorks for guidance. “We had a couple of questions we wanted to ask SpaceWorks,” Hoffman explained. “If we only leave the NSS Enterpriseup for a week or two, do we need solar panels or can we just use a battery to power the spacecraft and the payloads? They concluded that we would need solar panels—that the mass ratio would be better for sustaining an average 50 watts of load for the ship and the payload if we had solar panels, even for a one- or two-week mission.”

She continued, “The second question we asked was what would be the total mass of the NSS Enterpriseto support various payload masses. We were shooting for 300 pounds of payload, and on its preliminary estimate, SpaceWorks suggested that it would be about 1,100 pounds.”

This is where the funding comes into play: “But the answer is a curve showing mass versus payload. So, if we were to get a free launch on a vehicle that couldn’t take a spacecraft as big as the one we’re talking about or we couldn’t afford the entire project, we could scale it down and take only 200 pounds of payload, which would result in an overall smaller mass spacecraft.”

Of course, the goal is to realize the full potential of the NSS Enterprise, making it large enough to include the university-level experiments. To do so, EIS is in fundraising mode. The group is looking to obtain $20 donations from individuals, earning them virtual crew memberships on the spacecraft, as well as large donations from charitable organizations and corporations.

While $20 will get your name flown on a chip stored on the NSS Enterprise, $30 million will give you naming rights to the NSS Enterprise (Sponsored by You) and $10 million will allow you to name the artificial intelligence or choose her voice or visage. More importantly, what better way to demonstrate a commitment to education that will be a game changer than by funding the foundation of NewSpace education?

Enterprise In Space Program Sparks Visitor Interest at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

Over 1000 visitors were introduced to the ambitious Enterprise In Space (EIS) program at Space Day recently held June 4 at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM). NASM houses artifacts of important milestones along the path of aviation and aeronautical development.

EIS1Invited to be among the many firsts of historical space achievements celebrated at Space Day, the EIS team was thrilled to participate in collaboration with the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC). This year’s event drew some 30,000 visitors from around the world and included a presentation by astronaut Terry Virts.

Visitors at the EIS booth were excited to learn about its educational mission and the differences between the EIS program and some of the historical and inspirational missions of the past. National Space Society’s EIS mission includes many important ‘firsts:’

  • The first spacecraft bearing the name Enterprise to orbit Earth
  • The first Sci-Fi inspired design of a spacecraft.
  • The first to converse with student teams in natural language while in orbit using an artificial intelligence just like the Star Trek™ computer assisted their crews with experiments and analyses.
  • The first non-profit organization to launch and return student experiments free of charge, allowing children of all socio-economic levels to participate.
  • Students work in cross-cultural teams to convince judges that their experiment should earn the right to be among the 100+ experiments flown.
  • Likely the first 3-D printed spacecraft (aero-frame and skin) to orbit and return to Earth.
  • The first to promote and encourage liberal and fine arts as part of the experimental design.

EIS2“The collaboration between SSEC and EIS will promote authentic STEM experiences, a focus of the Federal Committee on STEM Education,” says Carol O’Donnell, Director of SSEC. She captivated students at an enjoining booth in an interactive activity involving an eclipse and moon phase demonstration, one of the lessons found in SSEC’s intermediate astronomy course. In a conversation discussing how authentic learning experiences are increasing the rigor and raising the bar of education, Dr. O’Donnell posed the question, “How much more authentic can you get than with the EIS program!”

Authentic learning engagement is a top priority of EIS and will be achieved through the student experiment design challenges. At Space Day, visitors had a chance to experience some lessons in the web-based EIS Academy (K-12) and cutting-edge challenges in the university level Enterprise Centers for Excellence. The LEO Art Challenge and Trek-A-Sat activities were a hit and can be found at www.eisacademy.org.

Visitors showed outstanding enthusiasm while interacting with EIS and SSEC representatives, resulting in Doug Baldwin, Program Director of Educational Services at NASM, noting that he “looks forward to working on future collaborations and events with EIS and SSEC.”

“EIS is delighted and honored to participate in Space Day and meet the dedicated people who’s hard work make this event possible year after year. As previous generations were inspired by the Apollo program, EIS hopes to inspire the next generation,” said Alice Hoffman, Program Manager of EIS.

Enterprise in Space is inspiring today’s children for tomorrow’s future.