This is the HIVE, analogous to a bee-hive, honeycomb structure in nature. The HIVE is a 50 cm cube that will pave the way for a better way for astronauts to grow more edible plants in a limited space. This small and very efficient box can store up to 48 seeds and can last astronauts a long time. There is a LED strip that is circled at the top which illuminates down the entire structure as it is made from industrial glass. This way, the light reaches every seedling. The light is positioned at the top since there is no up or down in microgravity, the plants will grow towards the light. This way, the leaves of the plant will grow up and not hinder the way of the other plants. Down the middle of the cube is a hexagonal beam which provides the basis for the unique structure of the HIVE. The HIVE is named after its hexagonal beehive patterns, which can be seen from the branching hexagonal trays. These trays are made from aluminum and can withstand rough and bumpy encounters. The sides are covered with reflective glass so that the light can shine bright and hit every plant. Inside the hexagonal beam is a cylinder with over a hundred interconnected holes like micro-fluidic channels. These holes provide the water for the plants reaching out to every possible nook & corner. The cylinder revolves to make sure the plants get enough water. The excess water that does not shoot the plants will pile up at the bottom of the cube and be brought back up using a tube back to the original water storage at the top of the HIVE. The water is released by a timed switch that goes off daily.
- Aluminum Rods
- LED strips
- Foam Soil
- 3D Printer
-3D Printed hexagons
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Step 1: Hexagonal Tray
This is the Hexagonal Tray that holds two plants. It is 12.5 cm long. It has a indent at the bottom that allows space for the foam soil to be inserted, with the seed going inside that. It has cut out rectangles on every other side so that it gives the plant a precious amount of growing space. This way, we do not limit or obstruct the plant from growing in one singular way. From this ideology, the HIVE will look like a big green bush and will make it easy for the astronauts to cut off the leaves. The HIVE includes four of these trays on six sides, totaling twenty four trays in total. Each tray holds two plants, and that means a total of forty eight plants can be occupied in the HIVE.
Step 2: Water System
This is the advanced water system. The water supply is provided by the ISS, which is connected to the HIVE. A timed switch will allow water into the HIVE, coming down from the middle cylinder. The cylinder contains a ton of holes which will spurt out the water in all directions and onto the plants. The cylinder also moves, which makes the impact of water on the plants much higher and gives a more efficient way of growing the plants. The water that does not make it into the hexagonal trays or onto the plants leaves will make its way down to the bottom of the HIVE. The bottom of the HIVE is angled downwards into the middle cylinder so that the water goes there. There is a tube that brings the water back up through a vacuum that is powered by the ISS and back into the water storage so no water is being wasted.
Step 3: Conclusion & References
The HIVE solves the issue of sustainable plant life in outer space using 3D printing as a viable solution to make light weight design and will only continue to get better. As the plants continue to grow, the faster they will regenerate their leaves, making astronauts have a solid supply of food. It contains light, water, and oxygen, the three basic essentials for plants to grow.
I, Saumit Reddy, high school Senior, have created this design using Solidworks under the guidance & mentorship of Shweta Thapa, Mechanical Engineer at the 3D printing lab at NJ's largest makerspace & thriving educational hub Maker Depot Academy. We look forward to spreading and working on solving the most challenging problems of mankind. This challenge was a pleasure to bring our whole community together and brainstorm ideas!
Participated in the
Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest