Ever dreamt of designing a makerspace for astronauts to use? NASA is accepting prototypes and applications from the public to put a makerspace aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Many people do not realize that the public can interact with, and more specifically work with NASA. The agency releases public calls for proposals and prototypes all the time. Anyone, including small businesses and individuals, can submit designs for consideration.

International Space Station astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore holds a science sample container that took two hours to make in December 2014. The container was the first object to be printed with two parts: a lid and a cup. Photo is courtesy of NASA

This time, NASA specifically wants a FabLab, or makerspace, on the International Space Station. They are not planning on packing up crates full of table saws and routers, they need something a little more purpose built.

“We’ve already seen the benefits of on-demand manufacturing for tools and replacement parts on station. We want to increase the number of materials we can use to manufacture items on-demand in space and improve overall manufacturing efficiencies as well.” – Jason Crusan, Director of AES

Building a FabLab for the ISS may end up a bit more complicated than you may be initially imagining. There are many special considerations that need to be kept in mind. You cannot have anything that could ignite a flame. You cannot include milling materials without a failsafe that collects all the swarf and dust. Everything needs to be designed so that it works with the EXPRESS rack system that is on board the ISS (it supplies things like electricity, air, and water). You will also have to keep in mind that the maximum payload volume of one of these systems is a 2 foot cube! Your proposal needs to function within the physical system in place on the ISS, be fully remotely operable, and (preferably) capable of recycling its own waste.

Be sure to check out all the necessary details for submitting a proposal before you start trying to design one. If you are eligible, and want to help, you better get to work. The proposals are due by August 2nd.