Growing Beyond Earth: Maker Contest

Interested in promoting the contest? Share our contest overview in print or online.
And share your own developments using #GrowingBeyondEarth and #SPACEgarden on Twitter and Instagram.

Brainstorming? Use this worksheet to help get your ideas and teams in order.
This worksheet is adapted from materials graciously made available to the contest by MakeHaven in New Haven, CT. 

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If you have filled out the form and are not receiving our emails, please email us to ensure you are listed correctly. 

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

Sites all over the nation are participating - see if one or more are near you!

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 low Earth orbit, they face specific science, technology, engineering, and mathematics challenges related to space crop production. 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 critical 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 and inventive use of the available volume on space craft (a cube 50cm on a side), 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 romaine 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 launched at NOMCON, open to US residents
  • Jul 10, 2019 - Webinar - Initial information & feedback with NASA
  • Jul 24, 2019 - Webinar - Secondary feedback & Q&A with NASA
  • Sep 25, 2019 - Webinar - Introduction to High School Classrooms
  • 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.

Our first webinar, hosted on July 10th, 2019 and featuring Dr. Gioia Massa and Trent Smith of Kennedy Space Center, covered the existing hardware and available resources aboard ISS, answering a number of questions from participants in attendance.

Our second webinar, hosted on July 24th, 2019 and featuring Ralph Fritche of Kennedy Space Center, covered NASA's current and planned developments in the production of space crops, and answered further questions from participants in attendance.

Our third webinar, hosted on September 25th, 2019 and featuring Dr. Gioia Massa and Trent Smith of Kennedy Space Center, covered the overall contest as well as a few notes on the cleaning and preparation of seeds for growth aboard Space Station.

Our final webinar, hosted on October 30th, 2019 and featuring Trent Smith and Ralph Fritche of Kennedy Space Center, addressed questions from contest participants, regarding all aspects of the contest's focus of redesigning growth chambers for space. 


Read our answers to our most commonly received queries about the contest 


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.


With additional support from