Last month, the Cynus cargo ship was equipped with the Made In Space Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) destined for the International Space Station to begin printing in 3D orders for over 20 customers previously secured by Made In Space. Included in these orders are medical research components, parts for satellites and other spacecraft, and even parts for high school projects and design contests.
In honour of its successful arrival alongside the first expandable habitat, Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), to the International Space Station (ISS) – designed to take up less room on a rocket, but provide greater volume for living and working in space once expanded – Nasa and non-profit ASME Foundation have launched a new “Future Engineers” challenge.
In the spirit of such ingenuity and innovation, the “Think Outside the Box” challenge inspires students to design something astronauts can print with the newly arrived 3D printer, limited by the dimensions of the apparatus – 10 cm x 10 cm x 14 cm –but, once assembled, is actually larger than those parameters, literally ‘outside the box’!
Making more with less: a must in space!
When it comes to space exploration, actual space is a hot commodity. The “Think Outside the Box” challenge addresses this priority, as rocket payloads are limited to save cargo space and fuel and sustainable technologies are needed to reduce, reuse, and recycle what is brought up.
Pioneering space technologies to inspire, examples of innovation to overcome the challenges of such significant limitations, include the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (Beam) and the Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) of Made In Space.
Beam allows for the transport of a relatively small package to expand upon arrival, and AMF, a permanent, commercial manufacturing facility, offers the opportunity to purchase necessary hardware in space instead of launching it. The AMF 3D printer will also provide research that advances the long-term goal of developing off-planet manufacturing capabilities for destinations like the moon or Mars.
Think Outside the Box inspiring new generation of scientists and engineers
For young scientists and engineers, the Think Outside the Box challenge opens up a new world of possibilities in addition to exciting prizes.
The junior and teenage winners will receive a trip to Las Vegas for a VIP tour of Bigelow Aerospace and the finalists will win an expedition-worthy inflatable tent from Heimplanet.
The challenge will remain open through the summer and students must submit their expandable designs by August 1, 2016.