The first person to land on Mars is likely in school today. It’s kind of a crazy thing to think of. After all, our parents still remember where they were 47 years ago when there was a huge leap taken for mankind. And while we haven’t gone back to the moon in almost as long, it’s fair to say that space and the research that got us there have changed our lives. After all, toothpaste, baby formula, artificial limbs, MRI and CAT scans and even memory foam .
But now it’s the boring old earthbound office—and the video games in our parents’ basement—that are helping us access the next level of the great beyond. From smart glasses to 3D printing to augmented reality, these nice-to-have gadgets will change the face of space.
Creating the first factory in space
Before long, it won’t be about Lost in Space but rather . Since it’ll take between six to nine months , we don’t see Amazon Prime deliveries there any time soon. That means a la we’d have to grow our own food and build our own stuff. 3D printing will lead the way to creating rapid prototyping and the first manufacturing in space, and it’s already being done on the International Space Station.
“Testing a 3D printer using relatively low-temperature plastic feedstock on the International Space Station is the first step towards establishing an on-demand machine shop in space, a critical enabling component for deep-space crewed missions and in-space manufacturing,” reads NASA’s official page on its .
In fact, for awhile now, have been successfully printed on the International Space Station, though these plastics haven’t been given long-term testing for a durability that can last through space and time.
Following suit of makers’ studios and coworking centers in cities near you, zero-g 3D printing enables for prototyping not only to create new objects 400 kilometers from Earth, but to test the size and shape of replacement parts, making sure the next SpaceX shipment will bring exactly what the world’s farthest office needs.
And, as we know, no space exploration research is lost on us earthlings. Just this Summer, are heading up into our thermosphere to measure ultraviolet and x-ray rays, as well as to help us understand the science behind the beautiful Northern Lights.
It’s not just for today’s problems either. NASA and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation have issued . With the relatively minimal cost of 3D printing, students can compete to solve real-world space exploration problems. You know, preparing them for their time on Mars.
How augmented reality gets us ready for the Great Beyond
No kids, Pokemon Go is not the coolest thing since slice bread. In fact, it’s rather a lame, limited use of augmented reality. Our planet’s astronauts are using augmented reality glasses to practice assembling precise, complicated and incredibly expensive space parts. Before heading up to the ISS, virtual reality and augmented reality allow them to prepare for one of the hardest—and coolest—jobs ever. NASA uses a conventional, graphical three-dimensional world of the ISS in combination with haptic feedback gloves and a motion sensor to not only help them fix things but to perform virtual space walks unlike any earth-bound simulation before it.
It’s not just about interacting in space but a great way to interact with their remote coworkers. We’re not far from Obi Wan Kenobi’s hologram to Princes Leia being a live feed that has us working together, whether we’re working down the hall or across the universe from each other.
These are just two examples of how smart technology is meeting lean manufacturing and advancing the new space race to Mars and beyond.
Where else are us boring earthlings driving space exploration? Tell us about it and —we’re so excited about what the future holds!