â™ª [music] â™ª chris: welcome tonasa edge. franklin: an inside andoutside look. blair: ...at all things nasa. chris: you okay?franklin: what's up? blair: yeah sorry,i just need coffee, i went to thatmarvel movie marathon, where you literally sit inthe theater and watch everythingfrom...chris: oh leading up to
the avengers!blair: yeah and there's like 400 hours of footageand popcorn. i'm sorry. chris: well get ittogether because we have a jammed packed show. franklin, we're going tobe talking about advanced exploration systems, or aes. franklin: yeah, and one of thosetechnologies is 3d printing that is actually up on the international spacestation. blair.
franklin: let'spull it together. chris: later in the show you'regoing to be talking with deanne bell with thefutureengineers.org. blair: yes. i am! blair: going to be talkingwith deanne bell. chris: and in the meantime, ihad the chance to sit down with jason crusan whois the head of aes, and he's going to tell us allabout the cool technologies coming out of hisoffice. let's check it out.
chris: so jason, i understandthat you're the q of nasa. jason: well that's aninteresting reference in itself, but it's a nice analogy if youthink about q getting ready for bond to go off and do whatevermission he was being charged to do. our group ismuch like that. we're designing all the systemsto send our crews off to explore deep space. chris: now withinyour portfolio, or your technologies, whatare you trying to develop?
jason: so a couple fundamentalthings: you need to be able to get into space, you need tobe able to live in space, and be productivewhen you're there. so we're building a lot ofstuff that allows you to live in space. we are developingsome of the next generation habitation systems.where's the home? how are peoplegoing to live in that? life support systems for it;how you're going to handle logistics, andmanagement of that.
overall, being ableto live in space. chris: now i guess, let's saywhen we go to mars one day, we have the firsthumans on mars, the first thing that comes tomy mind has to be space suits. jason: absolutely. sowe're also advancing the new space suit technologies. and space suits we see what yousee on the space station today. they go out, theyrepair something, they fix something,they come back in.
on a trip, to say mars, you'repotentially going to go out, fix things along theway, long duration there. and then when youget to the surface, you wanna go outside.chris: right. now one of the cool labs wehave here at nasa johnson space center is the portable lifesupport system ventilation laboratory, and that's wherethey're working on the space suits of the next generation.jason: correct, yeah. so the suit ismade up of two parts.
the actual garment that youwear and then the backpack; the portable lifesupport system. the life supportsystem, the one we have, has been very reliable.however, it's getting pretty old at this point and there's a lotof new technologies that we actually want to incorporateinto the backpack of the future. for assemblingthe space station, or what we did on the shuttle,you're working in zero gravity, or near zero gravity, so theweight of the suit didn't matter
as much, the mass of the suit. but when you get to the surface,even though there's really reduced gravity on mars, you'restill going to have to carry around that weight, so you'regoing to need a lighter weight suit and also one that youcan use more frequently, and also one that putsup with the environment; the dust, the rocks andall those kinds of things. when we did the shortduration eva's during apollo, we only did a very few number ofthem and we were on the surface
of the moon for avery short time. mars, we're going to bethere for a long time. chris: mobility willprobably be an issue, you said weight is an issue.the flexibility of actually working in that environmentwould be a key factor. jason: correct, yeah. so a lot of thestation assembly, they optimized the suit toworking on the space station. so your work zones and such,you're not picking up things off
the ground, you're not usinghand tools and those kinds of things. instead you'returning bolts and all that, so you have a different type of work that you'regoing to be doing. chris: now is theresomething with that backpack, is there something you wantto miniaturize it and make it assmall as possible. but on the flipside,you want as much oxygen, the astronauts to breathe; tostay out there for extended
periods of time on the surface. jason: yeah, so you have thishard challenge of wanting to be out there as long as you canbe out there and making it as lightweight as possible. which is what most people couldrelate to if anybody has ever traveled, you don't want to becarrying around a big heavy bag allthe time either. chris: that'sright, that's true. now, what are some othercool technologies going on?
jason: one of the problemswe have is managing all the logistics. if you'regoing to be gone on a trip and you pack your car, and you need to figure out whereeverything is going to be in, say your motor home, overthe course of a couple years, how are you going tofind all that stuff? so what we're going to dois use next generation rfid, or what we'd callradio frequency id tags, and what those allow you to dois wirelessly track an inventory
where everything isinside of your vehicle. chris: that actually makes sensebecause if you take a look at something like iss where youprobably have thousands and thousands of pieces ofequipment on the station. and how do you keeptrack of all of that? jason: yes, and onthe space station, we don't sometimes.there are a number of items that we've lost onthe space station and we have topotentially fly a new one up.
on the space station, youhave the additive benefit of the crews changing every six monthsso imagine if you were living in your house for six months, youput everything where you wanted it to go, somebody else comesup six months later and moves it all on you, and thenyou come back again, and nobody knowswhere everything went. so everything will have theequivalent of almost like a high-tech sticker thatactually tracks every piece, and you'll havedifferent types of readers,
so you'll have readersthat are in between modules, so you can track when somethingmoves from one module to another, and you'll have otherreaders that may be hand held so you can scan your storagebags and figure which bag it is exactly in.we're even looking at how do you make one ofthose scanners and put it on one of ourflying robots on spheres. so we're actually going to testa mobile rfid reader where you actually attach it to the robotand let the robot figure out the
inventory. it cango out and manage an inventory where everything is. the crew doesn't actually haveto do that kind of mundane task, the robot canactually go off and do that, and in fact our space technologymission director colleagues are starting the development on thatrobot that will follow on after spheres, and itsname is astrobee. chris: one of the cooltechnologies that i know we've been watching closely is theadditive manufacturing or 3d
printer. we haveone on the station now. how's that coming along? jason: so, we're talking aboutall these parts and pieces that you want, and you try to predicteverything that would ever go wrong, well we're going tonot think of some things. so one of the advantagesof additive manufacturing, if we don't have a part, we canjust order it up and have folks here on the grounddesign it digitally, email the file out, and thenprint out the part in orbit.
chris: and how long is thatprocess in terms of making a tool, of making apiece of technology? jason: so, on station, we'vealready printed over 20 some parts. and in factyou can print out several parts per day, whenever youwant, just on a single printer. franklin: this is franklin. blair: hey franklin,what's the code for q's lab? franklin: you know,i'm not quite sure, but try this. itusually works for me.
blair: alright.franklin: up, up. blair: not really directions.franklin: down, down. blair: got it.franklin: left, right. left, right. b, a.select, start. computer voice:mission complete! blair: oh! thanks,great. awesome. franklin: chris, thatwas a great segment. and that piece on rfid's, i wishi had that kind of technology in my house so i could keepup with my phone and keys.
chris: i'd like to keep it onall the toys that my son has! i mean, he's losingtoys all the time. franklin: yeah,they're under your feet. chris: that's true.hey blair, you alright? franklin: blair? chris: did he watchthe movies last night? franklin: he must have leftthe theater and came right to the set. chris: i'll tellyou what, you know,
let's continue on. i mean,i don't know what his deal is, but another cool piece oftechnology at the end of jason's piece was talkingabout the 3d printer. and you had a chance to sitdown with niki werkheiser. franklin: yeah, niki was tellingme about the technology that is up on the iss, and how thismight be using the future of space exploration, goingto mars. chris: hey, let's check it out. franklin: today, we're at theadditive manufacturing lab at
the marshallspace flight center, and i'm talking with the 3dprinting in space project manager, niki werkheiser. howyou doing niki? niki: hi, i'mdoing well, thanks. franklin: additivemanufacturing. what is it? niki: so additive manufacturingis actually the kind of formal term for 3d printing.traditional manufacturing is subtractive. you have a material and you take awayfrom it.
additive is any process whereyou actually build the part that you're trying tocreate, layer by layer, so it's additiveinstead of subtractive. franklin: 3d printing has beenaround for a long long time. so why is it right now we'retalking about doing 3d printing in space? niki: so 3dprinting, you're correct, has been on the groundfor quite some time, but as you probablyknow, in space travel,
we depend on flying every singlething from the ground to the space station, for example,that we might ever need. so our supply chain, from theinception of the human space program, has reallybeen quite limited. when we really start to thinkabout exploring further out destinations, like marsor asteroids or the moon, that supply chain modelreally isn't feasible. we have to think about how wewould respond in real time, in a sustainable,affordable way,
if parts get lost or broken. if we're doingscience for example, just like in alab on the ground, we have disposablehardware, sample containers, and syringes, things likethat right now we're completely dependent upon launching fromthe ground to the space station. so being able tocreate what you need, when you need it, on these typesof missions is really a critical enabler to sustainable,affordable exploration missions.
franklin: well, i've seen3d printing work here on the ground, but to get it in spacewhat are the technology hurdles that you have to get over tomake sure it works the same way in space as itdoes here on earth? niki: right, so those wereactually our exact questions. as a matter of fact, it was backin 1999 that ken cooper here at marshall space flight center,flew the first 3d printer in on a parabolic flight to see howit'd react to microgravity. since then thecompany made in space,
which we have a small businessinnovation research award with and actually built the 3dprinter that we've launched to the space station now, has flownover 500 parabolas on those flights through nasa'sflight opportunity program. so from that, we'vegotten some really good data. we've been able tosee, in microgravity, the basic response when you'relaying the layers and performing additivemanufacturing. however, you only get the 20to 30 second spurts
of microgravity onthose flights. so the bottom-line is that thespace station is actually the only platform we have in theentire universe where we can test this process out and printa complete part in microgravity. and that's why the firstprinter that we just launched; it is the first 3d printer everin space and we launched it on space x4recently, that's why it's called a technologydemonstration. franklin: now on the table rightover here we have a replica of
what is flying onthe iss right now. exactly how doesthis 3d printer work? niki: so this firstprinter that we're flying, we're actually operating in themicrogravity science glove box, and that is because since thishad never been done in space before, we did not haveall the data for things like flammability andoff-gassing of the heated, extruded material thatwe're printing with. since then, we've collected allthat ground data and found that
actually theresults are promising. the next printer willactually operate outside of msg. we'll have a next generationthat's based off of what we learnedoff this printer. we've alreadylearned a great deal. when you're designingsomething for a space flight, you actually need moreautomation than you have on the ground. astronaut timeis very valuable and limited, so you want to beable to automate.
you also want to be able tocontrol it remotely from the ground asmuch as possible. so you'll note for example, thatwe have two large windows in the printer and we'll have camerasaimed at those windows during the printing process, and we'llbe able to see in detail as the layers are being deposited,how that process is unfolding. what's reallyexciting about this is, we can actually email our 3dprint files directly to the 3d printer from the groundto the space station.
so it sounds veryscience fiction but it's not. it's going to bescience fact very soon. franklin: what material is beingused in the production of the parts that are goingto be made on the iss? niki: for our first printer,the technology demonstration, we're actuallyusing abs plastic, which is the sameplastic, if you see here, this is a littlepiece of the filament. this is the same plasticthat legos are made out of,
for example. thefilament we use is just like this and to be quite honest it looks almost just likeyour weed-eater spool. we're actually looking at thenext generation printer as well for even more materials,stronger plastics for example. franklin: we'retalking about plastics, but when we getdown to the point, we're talking abouttools that break. what is the future for usingmetals in space
and building thosetypes of tools? niki: right, so at nasa, weactually have what we call the in space manufacturinginitiative, and that initiative actuallyis composed of a road map or a vision of all the integratedsuite of capabilities that we'll really ultimately needfor exploration missions, that we want to teston the space station. we also want to dothings, as you mentioned, like printing withmetals in space,
printing electronics as well. we actually, last year nasareleased a small business, an innovation and researchproposal for a recycler on how to take that 3d printedpart and turn it back into usable feedstock. franklin: niki, what arethe goals of this technology demonstration on the iss? niki: so, for thetechnology demonstration, it really has two phases,and the very first phase is
specifically just toanswer the question, "does the additive manufacturingor 3d printing process work in microgravity the same way itdoes on the ground?" so for the first phase, we'll actually beprinting a lot of parts that may not look superexciting to the laymen, but are very exciting to us. we'll have coupons, so we'llhave things that look like this. this is a tensile specimen.we'll be doing things like compression, flexure,and torque.
for those parts, we'll bewatching from the ground as the parts are printed,through the cameras live, so we'll be able to tell a lotof information and data we'll be able tosee immediately. however, toreally determine that, we'll be flyingthose very first parts, those coupons, we'll be flyingthose back to the ground and we have printed those same partson the flight unit before we launched it. so we'll bedoing some detailed
engineering analysis and testingto compare those parts. once we've established that the3d printing process does work the same in microgravityas it does on the ground, we have a second phase, and howi like to think of that is the first phase really focuses onthe printer and the printing process, and the second phase,we actually turn our attention more to the partsthat we're printing. so utilization parts, we havea broad range and we're developing autilization catalog.
you can have thingslike sample containers, small hand tools, replacementparts for exercise equipment or medical tools. there'sjust a plethora of different areas andcategories we're looking into. but the thing there is to learnhow to design these parts and build them in microgravityand to create a sort of certification process.we've never actually made the parts we needed in space. we've launched everything fromthe ground so we have a very
well known process for how wehandle things like safety and flight requirements, so it'skind of fun to start thinking of how we would certify a part thatwe actually built on the space station. so thoseare things that we'll be working on inthe second phase of the technologydemonstration. one example, you know wehad a payload on orbit, and you have to changefilters out as a requirement, every so often. it was timefor the filter exchange,
and the filter cap was missing.it's a real simple little part. we were able to 3d print that onthe ground in about 45 minutes. of course we didn't have the3d printer on board when this happened, so they actually hadto wait 6 months for the next supply ship before theycould use that facility. even though that wasn't alife-threatening example, it's one that has very real andmeaningful implications to this science and to the dailyoperations on the space station. franklin: what's going to happenin the next generation
of 3d printing inspace? niki: yes, so we're alreadyworking that and everything that we learned from thistechnology demonstration, including what we've alreadylearned from the design and the operations, gettingit ready for flight, will feed into thenext generation printer. the really exciting thing aboutthe next generation is that it's going to be acommercial printer. it's called the additivemanufacturing facility and it's
being developed by the companymade in space and they're out in silicon valley, so it won't bejust nasa or the government that has access to 3dprinting parts in space. it will be available foruse by industry and academia; small businesses, largebusinesses that are interested in making something in space. so i think it's very exciting tothink about opening that door, and opening the door to thespace station and able to manufacture parts inspace to more
people than just directly nasa. blair: thistechnology is awesome. and i got to tell you guys; inlight of all the technology that we've seen in the show today,i've got something special that i've worked up with the helpof our good friend j.a.r.v.i.s. we're going totalk to deanne bell. hi deanne. thanksfor being on the show. deanne: okay well we'rerolling and we're good to go! blair: let's get started witha very important foundational
question. what exactlyis the future engineers program? deanne: right, so futureengineers is a program that was started to really inspire thenext generation of innovators and explorers. it'sa website; you go to futureengineers.organd there's all kinds of education resourcesand our website challenges students to create 3dmodeled inventions for space. the program is an americansociety of mechanical engineers foundation program in technicalpartnership with nasa and it's
really exciting. ourfirst challenge launched with the first zero gravity 3dprinter that went to space, and you know that's not thefirst and only challenge. we have many more challenges inthe pipe and we're constantly developing new challenges andnew curriculum to really connect the excitement of spaceexploration and space research with the excitement of creatinga 3d model and turning your idea into a 3d modeled reality. blair: recently you announcedthe winner for your first
future engineers challenge. what did that firstchallenge involve? deanne: the first challenge, wechallenged students to create a space tool for astronautsand we had so many different submissions from all corners ofthe country and ultimately we chose 10 semifinalists in each age group. we had two age groups: under 13and over 13 that are enrolled in a k-12 school and our winner inthe juniors age group is named sydney vernon and shedesigned a space planter
to grow a seedling in space. our winner of our teen division,his name is robert hillon based in enterprise, alabama and hedesigned something called the mpmt. it's the multi-purposeprecision maintenance tool, and he basically took agajillion different tools and put it all into one tobe 3d printed on station. and the excitement is,that one actually is getting 3dprinted on station. blair: what's nextfor future engineers?
deanne: there is so muchexcitement going on with the future engineers program. we are growing; we are alwaysin the process of developing new challenges. thisprogram wasn't just one challenge with that firstprinter that went up. we're really focused on amulti-year endeavor of getting students, creatingtheir inventions, and 3d modelingthem in the computer. every challenge that futureengineers issues in partnership
with nasa is going to becentered around research that's going on at nasa, so it's areally great opportunity to pair all of the excitement and allthe different areas of nasa research with k-12 programs to connect it with students inthe classrooms. blair: how can studentswith future engineers get involved with theavengers initiative? uh... future challenges...it's future challenges. how can they getinvolved in future challenges?
deanne: right, so you canget involved just by going to futureengineers.org.the site's more than just a place to registerand submit a model. there's all kinds ofcool, fun goodies to explore. there's videos about how toget started in 3d modeling, how to learn about3d modeling concepts. there's also all kindsof space science videos. there's different animatedscience lessons that you can learn about microgravity, abouthow rockets resupply the iss.
there's all kinds of contentthere to explore so i strongly encourage students to go there,to just dive into the site and look at all the resourcesthat we've curated for them. blair: thanks deanne, andthanks future engineers. deanne: thank you! blair: what'd you guys think? franklin: dude, that mightvery well have been the best interviewyou've ever done. blair: franklin, ireally appreciate that.
thanks so much! chris: as good asan asgardian god. blair: thor! that's awesome! [r2-d2 beeps] blair: r2! willow: you are great.blair: willow! chris: blair! blair!blair! blair! [r2-d2 beeps]franklin: blair. blair! chris: hey! what's up? blair: a outside lookat all things nasa!
franklin: we lost a wholeday because you were asleep. next time, just see one film. blair: one film?franklin: one film. chris: he does thisto us all the time. franklin: all the time. we haveto shoot tomorrow morning. 9am. dude, next time,bring your a game. chris: get some sleep. chris: and by theway, you blew it with the avengersquestion.
blair: avengers question... itwasn't a dream... it was real!