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The Future of Space Tech: Femtosatellite Launcher 3-D Printed on the ISS

May 05, 2017 08:54 AM EDT
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Grant Imahara announces the winners of the 2016 ISS Design Challenge, sponsored by Intel and Amphenol! We got a LOT of great entries, and now we showcase the projects picked by Grant Imahara and Chris Hadfield!
(Photo : Mouser Electronics/ Youtube)

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have successfully made the first ever satellite launcher 3-D printed in space.

The new 3-D printed launcher is the winner of the Mouser Electronics Inc.'s International Space Station (ISS) Design Challenge. Submitted by engineer Andy Filo, the winning design, a femtosatellite launcher, was 3-D printed on April 3 by Made In Space's Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) aboard the ISS.

"Mouser brought together engineers, students and makers from around the world in this exciting design challenge. All the designs were excellent, but in the end, there was one design that stood above the rest," said Glenn Smith, President and CEO of Mouser Electronics, in a statement sent to Nature World News. "The heart of this challenge was 'innovation,' and Andy's femtosatellite-launching device embodies forward-thinking design."

Filo's Femtosatellite launcher is capable of distributing femtosatellites, or small satellites, that monitor cosmic rays from the stars and coronal events from the sun. Each femtosatellite weighs less than 100 grams and is only about the size of a postage stamp.

After the crew aboard the ISS received the design for the femtosatellite launcher, Filo and Made in Space did some last-minute adjustments. They decided to round the handle, increasing usability and comfort. The design was also edited to increase the printing time.

The ISS Design Challenge was launched by Mouser Electronics Inc., with the help of its celebrity engineer Grant Imahara in November last year. The contest was sponsored by Amphenol and Intel, in partnership with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Made In Space and MacroFab.

Filo's winning design was chosen from a total of 242 entries. On third place is a device used to fix things in place while in microgravity designed by Thomas Delmas. Alsie Cluffs spoon-thong garnered the second place.

Mouser is an award-winning, authorized semiconductor and electronic component distributor that features more than 4 million products from more than 600 manufacturers.

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