National Space Society Endorses Presidential Space Policy Directive 1: Back to the Moon to Stay

On December 11, 2017, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1 (SPD1), which called for the United States to “lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization” while working with “commercial and international partners.”

“The National Space Society [NSS] worked to inform the new Administration regarding its views on space policy options over the last year, and is pleased to see that two of the Society’s recommendations have been adopted,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “A few months ago the National Space Council was set up, led by Vice-President Pence, with NSS Board of Governors member and former NSS Executive Vice President Dr. Scott Pace as the Executive Secretary. The just adopted SPD1 calls for the U.S. to return to the Moon. Both of these key objectives have long-standing NSS support, and were recommended to the new Administration at a workshop organized by NSS and hosted by the venture capital firm DFJ.” The output of that workshop can be found at http://www.nss.org/legislative/positions/NSS-DFJ-Workshop-Recommendations-Nov-2016.pdf.

“NSS has long called for a commercially based return to the Moon that focuses on the utilization of local lunar resources,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to working with NASA, Congress, and the Administration to enable a human return to the Moon, this time to stay. A return to the Moon leading to a permanent settlement on the Moon is a key step in the NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement (http://www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart4.html). Milestones 10 through 13 in the Roadmap relate to Space Policy Directive 1, and Milestone #10, “Robotic Confirmation of Lunar Resources” should be a top priority for NASA under this new directive.”

Mark Hopkins, the Chair of the NSS Executive Committee, added, “NSS is pleased that Space Policy Directive 1 calls for a return to the Moon with international and commercial partners. NSS, via its United Nations representation and network of international chapters, has been working for decades to ensure that the development and settlement of space involves the entire human race. NSS will be urging NASA to build on the public-private partnerships which currently support the International Space Station, to bring them outward into cis-lunar space, leading eventually to a wide range of self-sustaining enterprises on and around the Moon.”

The National Space Society (NSS) calls attention to Jerry Hendrix and Adam Routh of the Center for New American Security (CNAS) for their October 23rd essay: “A Space Policy for the Trump Administration” (https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/a-space-policy-for-the-trump-administration).

The CNAS authors favor expansion and freeing of the commercial space sector to fully harness the resources and wealth of solar system, noting that “the pursuit of space-based economic opportunities, and a desire to colonize celestial bodies have been among the main motivators in recent decades.” This is very consistent with National Space Society’s Statement of Philosophy and Space Settlement Roadmap.

Hendrix and Routh continue: “The United States’ broader space efforts should encourage the development of the commercial space sector by enabling the civil space sector to blaze a pioneering trail. Reestablishing a U.S. presence on the Moon in the form of raw materials mining, and then developing an orbital manufacturing ‘shipyard’ in lunar orbit to produce reusable trans-planetary ships for transport and colonization, should be the first steps for much-needed assurances. There are ample resources on the Moon, and the lower gravity of the Earth’s satellite would make it cheaper to lift construction materials into orbit.”

National Space Society Congratulates SpaceX and NASA on the Return to Flight Status of SLC-40 and the Launch of CRS-13

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates SpaceX and NASA on the successful launch of Commercial Resupply Services 13 (CRS-13) Falcon 9/Dragon to the International Space Station from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 10:36 AM EST.

SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage landing at Landing Zone-1 after boosting CRS-13 toward the ISS. Credit: NASA.

Friday’s flight is SpaceX’s 17th this year, the fourth usage of a “flight proven” first stage, and the 14th first stage landing during 2017. These numbers put SpaceX in a leading position among launch providers world-wide. For example, in 2017 so far, the United Launch Alliance has lofted eight rockets and Arianespace nine. SpaceX by itself leads all Chinese launches (16) and falls just short of Russia (19).

This flight is also notable for many “firsts”:

  • 1st launch from SLC-40 since it was damaged in the Amos incident last year.
  • 1st time NASA allowed the use of a “flight proven” first stage as part of the CRS program (the first stage flown was initially used to launch CRS-11 on June 3, 2017).
  • 1st time a “flight-proven” first stage and a re-used Dragon capsule have flown together (the Dragon was initially used on CRS-6 in April and May, 2016).

“NSS members are especially excited about Made in Space’s optical fiber manufacturing facility Dragon is carrying to the ISS,” said Dale Skran, the NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “If successful in demonstrating the superiority of ZBLAN* fiber made in space, this trial run may produce the first products manufactured in space and sold on the Earth, opening a new era of orbital commerce. Research indicates that ZBLAN fiber pulled in microgravity may not crystallize as much, giving it better optical qualities that allow for more data to be sent over longer cable runs without repeaters, saving money and increasing security.”

NSS believes that in-space manufacturing as envisioned by Made in Space and NASA will be an important step toward achieving Milestone 7: Applications of Space Technology on and for Earth in the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap (http://www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart3.html).

“SpaceX has capped the year with a really impressive achievement,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to the results of the fiber ZBLAN fiber cable manufacturing tests, and continuing usage of ‘flight-proven’ first stages by NASA and commercial customers. The return to operational status of SLC-40 opens the way for the first flight of the Falcon Heavy from Launch Complex 39A next month.”

CubeSat Structures Competition Opens Space Design to Students of the World

The CubeSat Structures Competition invites students from around the world to help advance the state-of-the-art of new space technology by designing new CubeSat structures. Winning designs will be evaluated for use in carrying future student experiments to space aboard SARGE rockets built by the launch vehicle company EXOS Aerospace.

Enterprise In Space, an international initiative of the National Space Society, along with EXOS, 3D Hubs, and Sketchfab are initiating a worldwide search to find the perfect CubeSat Structure. What are CubeSat structures? Experiments that fly in space need a structure to hold them. These structures can be of many shapes and sizes depending on the type of rocket that will take them to space.

Two challenge categories are available to entrants. They can propose a 3D printed design, or they can design with regular fabrication techniques. In both categories, semifinalists will be given the opportunity to build the structure and send it to EXOS Aerospace for evaluation. The Grand Prize winner in each category will have their design flown in space.

Students can enter now for a chance to be a part of NewSpace history via the competition website, http://www.enterpriseinspace.org/cubesats/.

New Shepard Flight Brings Sub-Orbital Tourism Closer

UPDATE: On December 19th Blue Origin announced that the December 12th flight of New Shepard was done under a new operational license from the FAA, and as a result revenue was booked on a New Shepard flight for the first time.  Blue stated that the cargo manifest for 2018 was mostly full, and that the first crewed test flight could be expected toward the end of 2018, with paying customers in late 2019.  This is a BIG DEAL.  For the first time, a company seeking to make a business out of sub-orbital tourism is taking in revenue, and the pathway to fully operational status seems clear.  More information can be found at:  http://spacenews.com/blue-origin-a-year-away-from-crewed-new-shepard-flights/.

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates Blue Origin on the seventh New Shepard flight December 12, 2017. After reaching over 98 kilometers in height, both the booster and the capsule were successfully recovered. The upgraded capsule, targeted for crewed flights in 2018, features the largest windows ever flown in space – 2.4 feet by 3.6 feet – and carried 12 commercial, research, and educational payloads, along with a dummy “Mannequin Skywalker.” This is the first of an expected series of tests of an upgraded version of the New Shepard expected to lead to sub-orbital tourist flights in the near future. The New Shepard booster is powered by the re-usable liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen BE-3 engine.

New Shepard capsule after successful landing showing large windows with “Mannequin Skywalker” visible. Credit: Blue Origin

“Blue Origin plans to use the technology from New Shepard to build its ‘Blue Moon’ lander,” said Dale Skran, the NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “This is a great example of pioneering private-sector technology that as part of a public-private partnership could support a USA return to the Moon as called for in Space Policy Directive 1.” On December 11, 2017, President Trump signed “Space Policy Directive 1,” which called for the United States to “lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization” while working with “commercial and international partners.”

New Shepard booster just after landing. Credit: Blue Origin

NSS believes that sub-orbital tourism of the sort envisioned by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic will be an important step toward achieving Milestone 2: Higher Commercial Launch Rates and Lower Cost to Orbit in the NSS Space Settlement Roadmap (http://www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap/RoadmapPart2.html).

“Blue Origin has established an impressive string of successful launches of the same New Shepard vehicle, and it’s great to see a next generation New Shepard take to the skies,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to seeing crews fly on New Shepard, leading to commercial tourist flights.”

National Space Society Congratulates Representative Jim Bridenstine on His Nomination to be NASA Administrator

BridenstineThe National Space Society (NSS) congratulates Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK-1) on his nomination to be the next NASA Administrator.

“NSS looks forward to working with Representative Bridenstine in his new role as the NASA Administrator,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “Representative Bridenstine over his years in Congress worked with NSS to advance America’s space program. He has introduced the American Space Renaissance Act, which has been a powerful tool for advancing new ideas to improve America’s position in space.”

Representative Bridenstine brings to his new job both political and aeronautical experience. A three-term member of Congress, Bridenstine served as a naval aviator from 1998-2007, and in the naval reserve from 2010-2015, mainly flying the E-2C Hawkeye. Additionally, Bridenstine was the Executive Director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium. Bridenstine has degrees from Rice University (triple major in Economics, Psychology, and Business), and an MBA from Cornell.

“Representative Bridenstine is one of a growing group in Congress that fully appreciates the importance of space commerce and space resources to the human future,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to working with Jim Bridenstine to lead America back to the Moon and to develop a thriving economy in space.”

Mark Hopkins, Chair of the NSS Executive Committee, added, “Some may be concerned that Representative Bridenstine is not an engineer or scientist. We should all recall that one of the greatest NASA administrators, Jim Webb, was a lawyer. America is lucky to have Jim Bridenstine as NASA Administrator.”

National Space Society Governor Scott Pace Named to National Space Council as Executive Secretary

Scott PaceThe National Space Society (NSS) congratulates NSS Board of Governors member Dr. Scott Pace on his selection as the Executive Secretary of the National Space Council on July 13th, 2017. Pace is the Director of the Space Policy Institute and Professor of Practice of International Affairs at George Washington University. Towards the beginning of Dr. Pace’s long and storied career, he was the NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the Policy Committee. Among his many contributions, he testified before the Congressional Space Committee.

“NSS looks forward to working with Dr. Pace in his new role as the Executive Secretary of the National Space Council,” said Dale Skran, the current NSS Executive Vice President and Chair of the NSS Policy Committee. “Scott again joins the ranks of former NSS leaders such as Lori Garver and George Whitesides in holding a vital space-related government post. NSS is proud to have supported their careers as they developed as space leaders.”

The National Space Council will play an important role in the Executive Branch by coordinating space activities between NASA, Air Force and other agencies. NSS wishes Scott well in his new role in the Executive Branch. Meanwhile, NSS is active in advocating for space settlement in the Legislative Branch. This summer, NSS members around the country will visit Congress as they participate in the annual August Home District Blitz organized by the NSS-supported Alliance for Space Development. NSS members will be advocating for low-cost access to space, a robust cis-lunar economy, and funding for a space-based near-Earth asteroid detection telescope. Persons interested in participating can found out more information at tinyurl.com/2017AugustBlitzSignup.

“I am truly honored and a humbled by the President’s decision and I look forward to working for Vice President Pence in service to the nation,” said Scott Pace.

Dr. Pace served from 2005-2008 as the Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation at NASA. Before this, he was the Assistant Director for Space and Aeronautics in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Lori Garver, NSS Executive Director 1989-1998, served as Deputy Administrator of NASA 2009-2013, and is currently the General Manager of the Airline Pilots Association. George Whitesides, NSS Executive Director 2004-2008, served as the Chief of Staff at NASA and is currently the CEO of Virgin Galactic.

“I think Scott’s background combining technology and policy as well as his experience with NASA and national security space is exactly the skill set needed for his new position,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “We look forward with great anticipation to see the course that the National Space Council charts for America’s future in space.”

Mark Hopkins, the Chair of the NSS Executive Committee, added, “During his younger days, Scott Pace was a major force in NSS for two decades. I have known him since the beginning of his involvement. He is a brilliant, tireless worker totally dedicated to humanity’s future in space. America is lucky to have him on the National Space Council.”

National Space Society Supports VP Pence’s Call for Constant Low-Earth Orbit Human Presence Leading to the Settlement of Space

The National Space Society (NSS) endorses Vice President Pence’s call to maintain a “constant presence” in low-Earth orbit (LEO) leading to the settlement of the space frontier, made during a visit July 6, 2017 to Kennedy Space Center. Fresh off the June 30th signing of a an executive order that makes VP Pence the leader of a revitalized National Space Council, Pence delivered an optimistic view of NASA’s future. NSS applauds the creation of a revived National Space Council, and looks forward to Pence leading the Council toward a bold future in space that is not just exciting but that delivers the benefits of space resources to all Americans.

VP Pence spoke about space settlement, saying, “We will maintain a constant presence in low-Earth orbit, and we will develop policies that will carry human space exploration across our solar system and ultimately into the vast expanse of space.” Pence continued, “As the President has said, space is in his words the ‘next great American frontier.’ And like the pioneers that came before us, we will settle that frontier with American leadership, American courage, and American ingenuity.”

VP Pence speaking at Kennedy Space Center. Background L to R: SpaceX Dragon, Orion EFT-1, and Boeing CST-100 training module. Image credit: NASA
VP Pence speaking at Kennedy Space Center. Background L to R: SpaceX Dragon, Orion EFT-1, and Boeing CST-100 training module. Image credit: NASA

“NSS strongly supports a gapless transition from the current International Space Station to future commercial LEO space stations,” said Dale Skran, NSS Executive Vice President. “We are encouraged to see the Vice President endorse a ‘constant’ human presence in low-Earth orbit. NSS works diligently to support the development and settlement of space, and this may be the first time that this goal has been endorsed in a public speech by a Vice President.”

NSS has been on the forefront of promoting space settlement for many years and has developed a Roadmap to Space Settlement that can be found at: www.nss.org/settlement/roadmap. NSS calls on everyone to help NSS push for space development and settlement by signing up to visit their Congressional representatives in the annual local August Home District Blitz at: tinyurl.com/2017AugustBlitzSignup.

Vice President Pence also spoke on the importance of public-private partnerships in the development of space, saying: “I’m particularly excited to see the increased collaboration with our burgeoning commercial space industry so much in evidence here at the Kennedy Space Center. I’m really sorry that I missed the successful commercial launch that took place last night. But the truth is we’re going to continue to foster stronger partnerships between government agencies and innovative industries across this country because both have so much to offer one another. In conjunction with our commercial partners, we’ll continue to make space travel safer, cheaper, and more accessible than ever before.”

“NSS is pleased that VP Pence has provided a strong endorsement for public-private partnerships in space,” said NSS Senior Vice President Bruce Pittman. “Such partnerships, which include the successful Commercial Orbital Transportation Services/Commercial Resupply Services programs to supply cargo to the ISS, have restored the U.S. as the world leader in space launch services.” This year, through the end of June, 2017, there have been 42 launches worldwide, with the USA leading at 13, roughly the same as Russia and China combined.

High School Students Take on Challenge to Design World’s First Science-Fiction Inspired Spacecraft

Enterprise In Space and SpaceWorks Partner to
Provide the Opportunity with ASTRO Program

SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. hosted a summer program specifically geared for high school students, challenging them to design the NSS Enterprise spacecraft envisioned by Enterprise In Space (EIS), a non-profit program of the National Space Society (NSS). The students had access to numerous resources, including the expertise of SpaceWorks and EIS staff. After completion of their project, the team presented their proposed design, budget, and methods of atmospheric re-entry to SpaceWorks, EIS, teachers, and parents.

The SpaceWorks program is called ASTRO, or Aerospace Summer Training & Research Opportunity, a project-oriented experience during which participants work in teams to solve an aerospace engineering design problem. This wasTeam 8, consisting of six students, and their session started in early June.

ASTRO Team 8 with Their 3D Printed Version of NSS Enterprise
ASTRO Team 8 with Their 3D Printed Version of NSS Enterprise

“ASTRO has been a wonderful way for SpaceWorks to see first-hand the potential that high school students in our community have to offer. We thoroughly enjoy working with the students and look forward each summer to the amazing ideas they come up with. Partnering with EIS for ASTRO this year has been a great experience for both us and the Team 8 students. Team 8 has been inspired by the work of EIS and they are genuinely honored to be part of the NSS Enterprise design process,” says Ashley Russ, Director of the ASTRO Program for SpaceWorks.

It was a tough challenge! The NSS Enterprise must be designed to carry a minimum of 100 student experiments, survive its launch into space aboard a rocket or space plane and its return to Earth. It must also be able to communicate results of some experiments from space as well as protect those experiments whose results can only be obtained once returned safely to Earth. Avionics, communications, structures, and all the engineering disciplines had to be considered.

Adding the liberal arts into the mix, some Team 8 members prepared artistic designs that can be used for promotion by the EIS team. EIS values the Arts portion of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) education.

Bill Miller, the CEO of Deep Space Industries, another EIS partner, stopped by SpaceWorks to lend his expertise to help students to understand some of the NSS Enterprise systems. He discussed DSI’s Comet water-based thruster for possible use in orbital maneuvering of the NSS Enterprise. About the students, Bill said, “I was incredibly impressed with the knowledge and enthusiasm of these students. They are entering the space industry at perhaps the most exciting time in our history, and will have the opportunity to make a significant difference in how humans move beyond the confines of our fragile planet.”

ASTRO Team 8
ASTRO Team 8

“We are all thrilled that SpaceWorks has selected Enterprise In Space for the ASTRO program. It’s great to see the students take on the challenge and to see the interest and excitement they have shown in going into aerospace careers,” said Shawn Case, EIS founder. “May they succeed in their future endeavors and become the aerospace engineers and astronauts that take us to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. I would also like to express my gratitude to SpaceWorks for all of the kind assistance they have donated to the Enterprise In Space program.”

SpaceWorks Enterprises has been a member of the EIS team since 2015 and looks forward to what the future will bring for the EIS orbiter. “I am pleased to have the SpaceWorks ASTRO program among our partners and sponsors. EIS fundraising is underway and if you are interested in helping NSS/EIS carry out our mission of educating the workforce of tomorrow, we’d love to add you to our team,” says Alice Hoffman, NSS President and EIS Program Manager.

National Space Society and Cornell University’s Cislunar Explorers Celebrate the Team’s First Place Victory in NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge

The National Space Society (NSS) is very pleased to announce that the team it has been actively supporting in NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge, Cornell University’s Cislunar Explorers has placed first and won one of the three Cube Quest Challenge flight slots on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) scheduled for launch in 2019. The team is led by Dr. Mason Peck and their spacecraft are planned for lunar orbit.

“We at NSS are very excited that the Cislunar Explorers team will be given an opportunity for the first-time in-space demonstration of electrolyzed water propulsion and an autonomous optical space navigation technology,” said Dr. Dean Larson, NSS Director and volunteer member of the team. “These groundbreaking technologies will prove to be very important in opening and settling space and are to be made available open-source to the space community,” he said.

NASA's Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, Steve Jurczyk, Benjamin Fried of team CU-E3, Kyle Doyle of team Cislunar Explorers, Wesley Faler of Team Miles, and NASA's Ames Research Center Director, Eugene Tu. Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart
NASA’s Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, Steve Jurczyk, Benjamin Fried of team CU-E3, Kyle Doyle of team Cislunar Explorers, Wesley Faler of Team Miles, and NASA’s Ames Research Center Director, Eugene Tu. Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart

“We’re thrilled to be selected for launch on SLS,” said Dr. Mason Peck.”This spacecraft represents a step toward democratizing space exploration. NASA’s support here marks an important difference between the agency’s contemporary approach to human space and what we saw during the Apollo era: NASA is embracing collaboration, inviting perspectives and technical solutions from all across the nation–private companies or universities exploring on their own terms. We’re all in it together,” he said.

In addition to the rides, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has awarded $20,000 each in prize money, to the winning teams of citizen solvers competing in the fourth and final ground-test round of the agency’s Cube Quest Challenge.

As part of their involvement in the team, NSS has designed an integrated test and evaluation plan and software verification guidance that will be used to help ensure correct functioning of spacecraft systems. NSS has also coordinated a space act agreement with NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and is helping to coordinate an agreement with the Goohilly Earth Station in Cornwall, England to verify our spacecraft will have achieved lunar orbit.

NSS Director and Team Member Dean Larson holds the Cislunar Explorers Spacecraft in the Cornell University Clean Room
NSS Director and Team Member Dean Larson holds the Cislunar Explorers Spacecraft in the Cornell University Clean Room

The unique aspects of the spacecraft are summarized on the team website as: “The Cislunar Explorers spacecraft leverage simple physics and symbiosis between several subsystems. The concept is a single rectangular 6U structure that splits into two L-shaped spinning spacecraft with a spring loaded separation mechanism. Each Explorer has a tank of water in the bottom of the “L,” off-center from the spin axis. That water is electrolyzed, using power generated from solar panels, into a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gas–excellent rocket propellant. The spacecraft spin helps separate the combustible gas from the inert water like a centrifuge.” See the Cislunar Explorers website for more details about the spacecraft. (http://cislunarexplorers.wordpress.com)

According to NASA, once deployed from SLS, the CubeSats will vie for a share of a $5 million prize in the first-ever competition in cislunar and deep space. The three Cube Quest Challenge teams launching on SLS are:

  • Cislunar Explorers, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
  • CU-E3, University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado
  • Team Miles, Fluid & Reason, LLC, Tampa, Florida

“We are delighted in the profound achievements of these teams,” said Steve Jurczyk, STMD associate administrator. “Each team has pushed the boundaries of technology and innovation. Now, it’s time to take this competition into space – and may the best CubeSat win.”

Also from NASA: “The final phase of the Cube Quest Challenge comprises two segments: the Deep Space Derby and the Lunar Derby. In the Deep Space Derby, teams must demonstrate communications capabilities from a range of at least four million kilometers from Earth – more than 10 times the distance to the Moon – while the Lunar Derby requires teams to achieve a lunar orbit where they will compete for near-Earth communications and longevity achievements. Prizes will be awarded for orbiting the Moon, communicating the fastest and farthest, and surviving the longest.

The Cube Quest Challenge offers a total of $5 million, NASA’s largest-ever competition prize purse, to teams that meet the challenge objectives of designing, building and delivering flight-qualified, small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the Moon.”

NSS will provide updates as the project completes its milestones towards flight. Congratulations to our Cislunar Explorers!

Reference links:

NSS project page:
http://www.nss.org/about/projects/cislunarexplorers.html

Cislunar Explorers
https://cislunarexplorers.wordpress.com

Reference photos:

Spacecraft Design. Left: Launch Configuration. Right: Two Redundant Spacecraft Separating
Spacecraft Design. Left: Launch Configuration. Right: Two Redundant Spacecraft Separating

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.