To Boldly Go

3D Printed Fungarium and Mini-Farm win NASA ‘Star Trek Replicator Challenge’

Star Trek Replicator

For 3D printing in space, a Martian mini farm and a melanized fungarium are the winners of NASA’s “Star Trek Replicator” contest. 

The Star Trek Replicator challenge, which was launched in February, threw down the gauntlet to young inventors to “design a non-edible, food related object for astronauts to 3D print in the year 2050.”

The specifics were that it must fit into a 6-inch cube, have a single feedstock, and applicants also had to consider the potential impact of microgravity on 3D printing.

In total, there were 405 submissions from two different age groups, teen (13-19) and junior (5-12). Designs came from 30 states across the United States and were evaluated by a panel of judges from American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Made in Space and NASA.

The winning designs came from Kyle Corrette in the teen group and Sreyesh Sola in the junior group. Their grand prize is a trip to New York for a tour with retired astronaut Mike Massimino of Space Shuttle Enterprise.

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More About the Winners

Kyle Corrette, from Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, designed a Melanized Fungarium which could provide an organic growth bed to feed astronauts over a long duration. It uses ionizing radiation for energy and since this radiation is prevalent in space, these fungi could serve as a renewable food source.

Corrette’s design provides a 3D printable outer shell as well as housings for an organic growth bed and an irrigation system.

Sreyesh Sola, from Eagle Ridge Middle School, made an Astro Mini Farm which would grow fresh food on Mars to support astronaut health. To make The Mini Farm perfect for 3D printing, it doesn’t contain electronic parts and could be printed using soft glass or transparent material extracted from the Martian soil.

Six other projects from the two age groups were finalists. Their designs included a clever mug, a small zero-G hydroponic setup, and two Spirulina farms.

All of the finalists, as well as the winners, will receive a Makerbot Replicator Mini for their school and a PancakeBot for home.

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