Raspberry Pi on the ISS: Now you can 3D-print your own flight case

The 'Astro Pis' on the International Space Station are encased in £3,000 units, but you can 3D-print one for much less.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

One of the two Astro Pi flight units that are aboard the ISS.

Image: Raspberry Pi Foundation

In December, British astronaut Tim Peake took two Raspberry Pis with him to the International Space Station (ISS) at the start of his six-month mission.

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These 'Astro Pis' were switched on earlier this month and are running experimental Python programs written by school children. But to satisfy the NASA's safety requirements for small payloads aboard the ISS, each computer had to be encased in a specially-designed flight unit.

Only eight of these -- costing £3,000 each -- were made, the elements milled out of solid blocks of aerospace-grade aluminium using a five-axis CNC mill, bead-blasted, and anodised with a special coating to aid thermal radiation.

But for those who wish to kit out their Earth-bound Raspberry Pi like their spacefaring cousins, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has now released the object file so that schools with a 3D printer can print one for themselves in plastic for a fraction of the cost.

The design has been modified so that even users with low-end 3D printers would be able to successfully print it, with minimal scaffolding and rafting. The designs are released under the Creative Commons attribution license, allowing users to modify them too.

Once the Raspberry Pis on the ISS have finished running their student experiments, they will each begin a long-term ISS environmental monitoring experiment: in flight recorder mode, the two Pis will save sensor readings every ten seconds, which can then be analysed for anomalies.

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