FIRST LEGO League is not just a robotic competition. The overall team evaluation consists of four parts – Robot Game, Robot Design, Team Collaboration and Research Project. The aim of the research project is to explore the topic of the current FLL and propose improvements or new solutions. This year’s theme is Into Orbit and we chose the problems of packing and shipping inventory to ISS. At the beginning of the school year 2018, our HobbyRobot team began to think about what task we would be working on to meet the topic. After our discussion with Milan Halousek, we decided to reuse packaging materials. We quickly found that the best possible way to solve this problem was through a polyethylene package that can be recycled into a filament for 3D printers. Scroll down to see what our project is all about!
What’s the problem
Nowadays, supplies are transported to ISS in packages called Cargo Transfer Bag (CTB). However, they are quite heavy and after unpacking nothing can be done with them, so they are discarded. This wastes a lot of fuel, money and space in the missiles.
Our solution is a new type of packaging that is as compatible in ISS as CTB, made of simple plastic. In this way, the package can be recycled for 3D printer material. We called our packaging Recyclable Space Bag, or ReSBag.
ReSBag can be recycled using new technologies – NASA refabricator. It is an experimental machine installed on ISS since February 2019, which can recycle most plastics. This technology is revolutionary because in this way any spare parts can be printed that otherwise take up a lot of space and reduce the load on the missiles. Current spare parts are often not even used because you do not know what will break. This is unnecessary and our solution avoids this problem.
Because the universe is cruel, you can’t just send new technology there and hope for the best. To make sure ReSBag is safe, we have read the official NASA documentation and start guide. In order for ReSBag to work properly, we have selected material – polyethylene – with the help of experts. It can survive very low and high temperatures and is easily recyclable.