The winners of the “What would you send to ISS?” contest have been announced.

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The winners of the “What would you send to ISS?” contest have been announced.

The contest was asking for proposals from the public for science research. Though the winner’s proposal, imaging the auroras in real time, is interesting, I think the runner-up who proposed building a nanosat factory on ISS to be far more exciting.



  • Edward

    I have to agree with you on that one. I used to think that space-based construction was decades in the future. In some ways, I thought that building satellites in space, rather than on Earth then launching them, would eventually be the better way to go.

    With 3D printing, however, space-based construction could be an early use of the Bigalow space habitats.

    One of the complexities of satellite manufacture is that it has to survive launch forces (as well as gravitational forces during construction and test). Another is that the design has to be assemblable, and uses a lot of fasteners.

    A 3D printer in space could manufacture much of the satellite as a single part, reducing the complexity of assembly, and gravitational and launch forces would be a thing of the past, making handling forces and stresses a larger limiting factor in satellite — or should I say space structure — design.

    This is an exciting time in space engineering and space science. As with innovations like 3D printing, I can hardly wait to see what the next ten years will bring to the field.

    On the other hand, the aurora as seen from space does make for some pretty pictures.

    (Don’t get me wrong; I know the value of studying the auroras. I built a spacecraft instrument that studied the x-rays coming from the auroras. However, Ms McDonald’s statement did not mention scientific or engineering possibilities, just “allowing more people opportunities to see their extraordinary beauty.” I am a bit appalled that the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space chose asthetics over function.)

  • Pzatchok

    Construction in space will not happen in anything more that a testing or scientific form.

    Not at least until they set up an artificial gravity environment for the manufacture of parts.

    WAY to many construction processes rely on gravity to work. Including a large part of 3d printing.

    You would still have to ship up all the electronics and non 3d parts. Including fuel and other gasses for the instruments.

    Optical quality glass and plastics can not be made without gravity’s effects to remove impurities and imperfections. Like bubbles.

  • Pzatchok

    I bet they chose this “experiment”because it only involves installing a nice self guided camera on the station and transmitting down the data.

    Its real cheap and off the shelf components. In the long run it should require almost no maintenance or monitoring by the station crew.

    All the other ideas involved actual work and expense.

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