One of the initiatives announced by President Obama today at the White House Maker Faire is a new NASA program intended to inspire a new generation of space enthusiasts. The Future Engineers program will give middle and high school students the opportunity to design items to be 3D printed on board the International Space Station (ISS) using the first 3D printer designed to operate in Zero G.
The printer, designed and built by U.S.-based Made in Space, has been especially designed for the station and recently passed final NASA certification and testing ahead of schedule. Its launch has been moved up, and the printer is now scheduled for SpaceX‘s CRS-4 mission in August this year.
“Our first 3D printer will be capable of building an estimated 30% of the parts that NASA has already needed to repair on the ISS. Astronauts will use it to build everything from new tools and hardware to emergency fixes that previously cost millions of dollars to build on the ground and launch to space,” Jason Dunn, CTO for Made In Space.
Starting this summer, the program will involve students in solving real-world space exploration challenges. The winning design will be printed using the Made In Space printer aboard the International Space Station—making it one of the first parts in history to be manufactured in space—and the winning student will be watching it print from NASA’s Payload Operations Center right alongside the mission control team.
“Imagine having your experiment installed and operated on the space station without ever needing to launch a single item. Or even having your very own satellite launched into space without ever touching the hardware. This isn’t science fiction, this is actually happening, and you can be a part of it.” Jason Dunn, CTO for Made In Space.
More information about the program can be found at on the program’s website.
President Obama is hosting the first-ever White House Maker Faire to recognize the contributions of makers who bring creativity and technical ability to a broad range of projects. If you are a maker or a friend of makers, please become an advocate for expanding opportunities for making and makers in your community. To show your support for growing the maker community, we encourage you to sign the “Building Maker Communities” pledge and put yourself on the map!