Challenge helps NASA pack for Mars

NASA’s Advanced Exploration System (AES) Division’s Logistics Reduction Project is trying to decrease the dependence on earth resupply for future long duration space missions. This is done via direct mass reduction, re-purposing logistics, and conversion of waste into useful by-products (gases, water, solids). We are trying to pack everything for Mars but our suitcase is too full. So we need to be smart about what we take, how we maximize the use of those items, and create new uses for the items once they’ve met their original purpose.

Some of the technologies we are developing will need to be tested in microgravity before they set off on long duration missions. The International Space Station (ISS) is an ideal place to demonstrate these technologies. In this challenge, we are asking the GrabCAD community to design an Experiment Attachment System (EAS) to attach a future experiment of set volume and mass to seat track interfaces in the ISS.

The NASA Experiment Attachment System (EAS) Challenge launched on March 7, 2016 and we’ve been amazed at the enthusiasm of the GrabCAD community and the feedback we’ve received. This is our project’s first design-focused crowdsourcing challenge so we weren’t sure what to expect. We are hoping to use the interactive nature of crowdsourcing communities to help us get a diverse set of design solutions. We’ve received many excellent questions from the community. This feedback allowed us an opportunity to clarify our intentions, respond to specific questions about the requirements, and figure out things that we would do differently next time.

Our panel of evaluators has been impressed with the different approaches to solving the challenge and the effort the submitters put into their designs. One of the things we like best is that we are able to review the designs submitted prior to the end date and provide comments for the submitters to consider which may lead to a design updates and a stronger entry.

Isn’t it great to receive feedback on a school project or a work project before it’s due? We reviewed every entry received so far. It’s been valuable for us to provide feedback so we can help guide the community to achieve designs that meet the criteria of the challenge. We are very much looking forward to selecting the winners of this challenge and appreciate the hard work of the challenge participants!

This challenge is hosted on GrabCAD and featured on and It is provided through the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL), which works across NASA and the federal government to provide crowd-based challenges as a way to solve hard problems and get work done. For more information on the NTL, see


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