NASA Needs Your Help With a Space Station Robot

NASA needs help building a robotic arm for Astrobee, a free-flying robot the space agency is making to live aboard the International Space Station.

Most of us have dreamed of working for NASA. But that dream will most likely never be realized, however, as NASA employs about 18,000 people, which is just 0.0002% of the world’s population.

But now might be your greatest chance to ever work for the space agency. NASA needs help building a robotic arm for a space station robot to help it with “perching and interacting with small objects.” NASA is asking for your design expertise for Astrobee, a “free-flying robot the space agency is making to live aboard the International Space Station (ISS)” starting in 2017.

If you’re interested in applying, NASA partnered with, so you’ll need to head here to apply. NASA, which will also be working on its own designs, hopes the crowdsourcing effort will lead to an “alternative concept, which could provide complementary or enhanced capabilities.”

At press time, there were 3,328 entries, so there’s already a lot of competition. So what does the winner get? Not much. NASA isn’t making the contest too enticing, unless prestige helps pay your bills. NASA will pick 30 finalists, each of which will receive $10 for their hard work. Yes, that’s right, $10. NASA will then send each finalist a detailed list of requirements, and anyone who comes up with a plan that meets NASA’s needs will receive another, wait for it, $100.

“NASA has grown in the multiple ways we engage the crowd to provide solutions to challenges we face when advancing complex space systems,” said Jason Crusan, NASA’s director of advanced exploration systems. “This challenge continues that expansion and will help to create novel designs but also allow us to learn about sophisticated system design through the use of open innovation.”

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
Contact Steve Crowe:  ·  View More by Steve Crowe.


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