Growing Beyond Earth: Maker Contest

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Ralph Fritsche, Senior Project Manager for Food Production in Support of Deep Space Exploration, NASA

Growing Beyond Earth (GBE) is extending its reach nationwide as we call on makers across America to submit their designs for gardening systems to be used aboard spacecraft. The Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest is a three-year multidisciplinary endeavor to leverage the ingenuity of minds throughout the nation to reinvent the systems used to grow edible plants on the International Space Station and beyond. As NASA looks toward a long-term human presence beyond Earth orbit, they face specific science, technology, engineering, and mathematics challenges related to food production in space. Through this contest, we aim to harness the creativity and talent within our local community and throughout a national network of makerspaces to address those challenges, which include (1) how to efficiently use three-dimensional plant growing space aboard spacecraft, (2) how to maintain plants without human intervention, and (3) how to design a fully automated robotic planting and harvesting system. Entries to the contest will be assessed and judged by NASA engineers and botanists, and winning proposals will be considered for implementation on future NASA missions. Take the challenge and help NASA's mission for long-distance space exploration with this critial component for sustaining life beyond Earth - growing edible plants.

Year 1: S.P.A.C.E.
(Spatial Planning for Agricultural Chambers beyond Earth)

Year 1 of this contest assesses the first of these three challenges, asking entrants to design a plant growth chamber for use in space that makes effective use of the available volume on space craft, while also incorporating the necessary features for plant growth (sufficient lighting, irrigation, and air circulation).

Phase I entries will be submitted through Instructables. The contest is open to High School, College, and Professional level teams, with five winners selected from each category by a panel of NASA scientists. The fifteen winners will go on to Phase II and test their designs' ability to grow 'Outredgeous' red romain lettuce, a favorite of NASA astronauts. One team from each category will then be selected to join Fairchild at the Nation of Makers Conference in 2020 and showcase their designs during the launch of Year 2 of the Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest. 

If you're gearing up to enter this contest and are in South Florida, visit the GBE Innovation Studio at Fairchild, the garden's very own makerspace dedicated to designing the technology of food production in space.

Additional digital resources are listed in the links below, along with an album of inspiring design ideas created through the Fairchild Challenge by elementary school students. 

Important Dates

  • Jun 15, 2019 - Challenge launches at NOMCON, open nationwide
  • Jul 10, 2019 - Webinar - Initial information & feedback with NASA
  • Jul 24, 2019 - Webinar - Secondary feedback & Q&A with NASA
  • Oct 30, 2019 - Webinar - Final check-in and Q&A with NASA
  • Feb 3, 2020 - DUE DATE - Phase I designs submitted via Instructables
  • Feb 14, 2020 - Finalists and other winners of Phase I are announced
  • Apr 24, 2020 - Phase II prototype designs and results must be submitted
  • May 8, 2020 - Final 3 winners of Phase II are announced


Fairchild will host scheduled webinars for teams interested in learning more about the current edible-plant growth system aboard the ISS and further details about the contest. Fairchild staff and NASA scientists will be available to answer questions during these webinars and to provide information and additional overview of the challenge's goals. The first two webinars will be hosted on July 10th and 24th of 2019, intended to prime entrants with all necessary knowledge for the contest. A third webinar will be held on October 30th of 2019, intended as a check-in to address any final questions. 

Details on how to connect to these webinars will be added to this page periodically, and will be emailed directly to entrants who fill out the Contest Update Restistration Form


To register for emailed updates please fill out this form
To enter a submission visit the Instructables contest page
For a brief contest overview, review our contest document

Follow us on Twitter @GrowBeyondEarth and share your progress with #SPACEgarden
Join the Nation of Makers Workspace to connect with us through our Slack channel

If you have additional questions, email us at 

This website is based upon work supported by NASA under award No 80NSSC18K1225. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


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