February 4, 2015 – After three months of designing and modeling, a panel of judges from NASA, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation (ASME) and Made In Space Inc. have selected the winners of the Future Engineers 3-D Printing in Space Tool Challenge. Two Colorado students were among the finalists.
Ethan Cranston of Golden, Colorado was a finalist in the teen group (ages 13-19) for the H20 Comb. The H2O Comb (H2OC) would be used in a microgravity environment to help wash hair. The H2OC has holes in between its teeth to eject water directly onto the subject’s scalp, instead of floating all over the spacecraft.
William Johnson of Littleton, Colorado was a finalist in the Junior Group (ages 5-12) for the Plastic Replaceable Astronomical Screwdriver (PRAS). The PRAS is small and compact and has two parts that snap into each other. The PRAS would allow astronauts to have a new screwdriver over night.
The challenge asked students in grades K-12 to use their imagination to create and submit a digital 3-D model of a tool they think astronauts could use in space. Models were received from 470 students across the United States and imagined interesting solutions to potential mission-related problems.
“If an astronaut tool breaks, future space pioneers won’t be able to go to the local hardware store to purchase a replacement, but with 3-D printing they will be able to create their own replacement or even create tools we’ve never seen before.” said Niki Werkheiser, NASA’s In-Space Manufacturing Project Manager at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
Winners were selected after a panel of expert judges interviewed the four highest rated winners from each age group. The panel members were Werkheiser, Mike Snyder, head of research and development, Made In Space Inc.; and NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman and Dr. Yvonne Cagle.
The winner from the Teen Group (ages 13-19) is a Multipurpose Precision Maintenance Tool that Robert Hillan of Enterprise, Alabama, designed. The Multipurpose Precision Maintenance Tool has a number of important tools which allow an astronaut to complete tasks, including wrenches, a precision measuring tool, wire gauges, a wire stripper and a pry bar, among other tools.
The winner of the Junior Group (ages 5-12) is a Space Planter that Sydney Vernon from Bellevue, Washington, designed. Vernon’s Space Planter model would be used to grow plants on the ISS while being very water conservative.
The top 10 entries from each age group are:
Teen Group (Ages13-19)
Junior Group (Ages 5-12)
The Space Tool Challenge is the first in series of Future Engineers 3-D Printing challenges for students focused on designing solutions to real-world space exploration problems. They are conducted by the ASME Foundation in collaboration with NASA and were announced in June as part of the White House Maker Faire to empower America’s students to invent the future by bringing their ideas to life. The next challenge will be announced in April 2015.
The challenge supports NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate’s Advanced Exploration Division’s 3-D Printing in Zero-G ISS Technology Demonstration whose goal is to demonstrate the capability of utilizing a 3-D printer for in-space additive manufacturing technology. This is the first step toward realizing an additive manufacturing, print-on-demand “machine shop” for long-duration missions and sustaining human exploration of other planets, where there is extremely limited ability and availability of Earth-based logistics support. Advanced Exploration Systems pioneers new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating key capabilities and validating operational concepts for future human missions beyond Earth orbit.