The Space Games Challenge, a watershed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program has been created as a pre-college students space dream where students game inventions will be printed on a Made In Space, Inc. zero-gravity 3-D printer aboard the International Space Station (ISS), then ‘played’ by ISS astronauts.

In late 2015, Made In Space deployed their additive manufacturing zero-gravity printer aboard the ISS as a first step towards the future of manufacturing off-Earth construction in space. The printer currently provides ISS astronauts the ability to produce replacement parts and tools in a zero-gravity environment. The Space Games Challenge inspires students to hone STEM skills in a practical, motivating, and fun program to produce a hand-held game to be played by astronauts in zero-gravity. The pilot test and first Space Game design, called ‘Star Catcher, will be delivered to the Station aboard the Orbital ATK’s Saturn V rocket to be launched from Cape Canaveral on March 22.

“Guiding a brilliant, creative group of students to work with Made In Space to produce tools to address camaraderie on long-duration space flight, both motivates STEM participation and exposes students to a critical dimension of future human space travel,” says Space Games Challenge creator and author, MJ Marggraff.

Current data forecasts a critical shortage of one million STEM college graduate students by 2022. The Space Games Challenge is a partnership between Made In Space and the International Space Station, combining unique, engaging challenges to STEM-interested students, and designed to enhance curiosity and increase STEM retention with practical and exciting applications. This pilot is a template to engage future students in STEM for space.

“The brainstorming and effort that goes into developing a Space Game is similar to the work that goes into creating more essential items,” says high-school junior, Ray Altenberg, co-captain of Space Games, from Campolindo High School in Moraga, California. “Our goal is to come up with something that would remain interesting for astronauts on, say, a trip to Mars, which would take two to four years. The idea that we can design a game, send a file, and have the game printed in zero gravity, millions of miles away, is pretty fantastic.”

MJ Marggraff is the creator of Space Games, and leading the first team of students to produce the world’s – or space’s – first zero-gravity Made In Space game. MJ is also a pilot and an author, with a soon-to-be-released book, “Finding The Wow”, Avail. May 4, from Amazon books.