Last week, International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory Commercial Service Provider Redwire Space announced an upcoming collaboration with Microsoft to inspire the next generation of builders and explorers using 3D printing in space. While that is exciting in and of itself, the two collaborated with one of the more recognizable entertainment brands in the world, Marvel Studios, to help widen the aperture of this education outreach initiative. Inspired by Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” movie, which hit theaters May 5, Redwire and Microsoft created materials for educators, students, and parents to explore space-based research and technology development; they also plan to 3D print a Zune on the orbiting laboratory.
You might be asking, why print a Zune? Microsoft first brought the Zune handheld music player to consumers on November 14, 2006. Peter Quill (also known as Star-Lord), played in the movie by actor Chris Pratt, uses a Microsoft Zune as his primary music device in the film, playing a montage of fantastic classic songs for himself and the other members of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
In the fictional storyline of the 3D printing in space education outreach initiative, Quill’s Zune malfunctions, and to be able to listen to music, he needs help from the space station! Microsoft and Redwire come to the rescue by 3D printing a Zune in space for Quill and the other Guardians, under the sponsorship of the ISS National Lab.
This education outreach initiative will provide an avenue for the public to learn more about how space is enabling new pathways for innovation and opportunity. For more information about the initiative, go to Microsoft’s Zune.net and explore the content inspired by “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”
Advancing science literacy in the next generation is strategic priority for the ISS National Lab. Developing a robust workforce is paramount to ensuring the success of future space platforms. Education collaborations such as this also serve to blend art and technology, showcase the growing opportunities in space in an engaging way, and help bridge the gap between being interested in science fiction and engaging in real science.
It should also be noted that the Marvel brand is no stranger to working with the ISS National Lab. In 2016, Marvel Entertainment developed a mission patch for the ISS National Lab featuring characters Rocket and Groot from the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book franchise. The mission patch represented all research and technology development launched to the space station under sponsorship of the ISS National Lab during 2016. Additionally, from that relationship came the 2018 Guardians of the Galaxy Space Station Challenge, wherein student researchers proposed concepts for space-based research and technology demonstrations based on the Rocket and Groot characters. Two investigations were ultimately launched to the space station through this challenge.
We encourage you to take a closer look at this exciting collaboration between Microsoft, Redwire, and Marvel Studios—bringing together education, fun, and 3D printing materials in space for the good of humanity, or in this particular case, the listening pleasure of the Guardians of the Galaxy!