May 242011

To get a photo of Blender running in space. Or if one exists, to make lots more.

• Lots! Why not? It’d be really cool!
• To raise the profile of Blender as a tool for education.
• To cultivate awareness, interest, and support for space science and technology.
• To create more opportunities for those of us who are gravitationally challenged to participate and contribute to space science and technology.
• To effectively synergize backwards overflow.

Recruit Suzanne’s Space Monkey Corps! A small army of artists, game designers, developers, coders, kooks, quacks, and nerds, ready and willing to work on small blender projects that an astro/cosmonaut might use in space. Then work on said projects for said ‘nauts. Then ask them to take a picture of themselves using it in space for us.

• Artistic renderings/animations for space education and advocacy.
• Visualizations of data gathered from various research.
• Reaction time, concentration, coordination, or memory testing ‘games’ for cognitive experiments.
• Data logging ‘games’ to allow versatile input of data from inflight experiments. For example an experiment where a mission specialist must observe several insect behaviors in a short span of time. A ‘game’ might be setup with multiple timers and key inputs to report certain behavior ‘events’, results are logged for later analysis and/or visualization.
• Real time visualization of data from external devices connected by tcpip/usb/bluetooth.
• Earth training simulations for experiments to be performed in 0G.
• <insert cool idea I haven’t thought of here>

• Make a post with lots of bullet points.
• Get comments from all the brilliant blender people out there to see if this is just crazy or not.
• Volunteers sign up and specify their areas of interest and abilities. (for now just reply to this post and say you’re in and what you’re awesome at)
• Maybe some kind of demo reel / 30 second spot to get the idea out. (beyond the Blenderverse)
• Contact every possible space agency, business, and advocacy group and see what kinds of projects might be useful for currently planned or possible future missions.
• When potential projects arise, open requests will be made to volunteers. Organize work on these projects.
• Stare at the cool pics of Blender running in space and bask in the awesomeness.

I’m just a Blender guy obsessed with space. Here is some of the stuff I’ve done with Blender. Nothing revolutionary, but I like to think I contribute.
I’m very passionate about open source in general. Somewhere between passion, vanity, and delusion I decided that this would be a good idea and that I am somehow qualified to crank up the mission.
For now my plan is to make this post, let it percolate, and meanwhile compile information we need to know to make this happen. Stuff like finding out about existing ISS crew data services. For instance, could a crew member easily download a .blend file aboard the ISS from the internet? Does the ISS use standard wifi/bluetooth protocols or something else. What hardware OS/specs are normally flown? Does the crew fly with personal laptops? What kind of security restrictions, if any, might we need to consider, what can we do to satisfy the security requirements?
Once ‘The Corps’ materializes a little I’ll start writing to the organizations that can help to get the ball rolling, offer our capabilities and announce the mission. Basically try to get the attention of people who fund, fly or live in space and see what they say.
Once projects arise, I’d be happy to organize any projects that are my league, but I’m not sure what league I’m in, so I’d be just as happy to hand off to any of the masters and gurus who are in leagues that make my league look silly.

I realize this is a pretty lofty goal and might look a little naive. Maybe it is. Even so, space travel captures the imagination, and I think the world is in desperate need of imagination. Students from elementary through graduate school have designed experiments that have actually been flown in space. This could be an opportunity to open a whole other avenue for student/amateur participation in space programs, especially since there’s no delta-V required to put a .blend file in orbit. Though it could and probably will take a long time to get this going, there is actually a small chance it could take off very quickly. Technologically the first ‘Blender in Space’ pic could happen overnight. I’m not pinning any hopes on that, just deserves saying.

Just to clarify, I’m NOT suggesting that Blender be a part of any critical functions. Nothing remotely related to flight controls, power, navigation, life-support, or anything like that. We’re talking about little stuff here, experiments and tests and such that could involve a consumer grade laptop or netbook.
Also – this is NOT a request for doctored photos pasting a Blender screencap on an astronauts computer screen. If this works each image would be very precious and have a long story behind it including a lot of peoples hard work and dreams. I’d hate to dilute this with questions of authenticity. Hope that didn’t come across wrong, just had to say it.

How would people feel about volunteering for commercial space companies (Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, Armadillo, SpaceX, Bigelow, etc). As of yet none of these companies could actually take a photo of Blender in space, and since they are commercial they don’t fit into my perfect star-trek vision of enlightened exploration of the universe. However they do fit in a Heinlein universe, and Orson Scott Cards, sort of. Anyway- they are making spaceships, and I love spaceships.
Are there any intellectual property concerns?
Is this just way too far out a limb? Nah, it could work.

Every mission needs a patch. I propose Suzanne with a helmet somewhere in it. Any artists want to take a swing at it?
Also- I request to be the CAPCOM for this mission. Any objection? No? Great! I accept!

So whaddya think?

  6 Responses to “Blender in Orbit Mission – Recruiting Suzanne’s Space Monkey Corps!”

  1. Still working on this when I can… I need to post something on and try to get some support there.

    If this is interesting to you at all – please reply, I could use the moral support.

  2. You could probably hang a Blender capable netbook (or some other type of minimal computer) on one of those big weather balloons and let the air itself push Blender into space (battery life might be an issue perhaps)

    • Thanks, that’s a pretty good idea. I was actually hoping to get some astronauts to use Blender in space though. It’s sort of meant to inspire more space-science people to get into the Blender community and vice-versa. Good ideas though. Thanks again.

  3. That is actually a pretty cool idea. I’d like to participate (somehow/sometime). You know how awesome that would be to have in a portfolio!!

    • Thanks, glad to have some interest. Unfortunately I haven’t really made much progress on this. If you have any ideas or contacts on how to get more blender people interested in this I’d be all ears! Thanks again for your interest and for being a blenderhead and a space enthusiast!

  4. hey bro.. you’ve totally got the right idea man. Blender is the way forward for education for all! I think the task itself seems a little too daunting.

    My best teachers always told me don’t be a jack of all trades, be freaking awesome at one thing! We need to write a specific Blender script that uses its advantage of being accessible to everyone for mass data. What is that particular, specific problem we can all pile in on to solve together? Thats what we need – as soon as the goal is clear enough, people solve the answers to it.

    What about a script, that takes text logs from multiple cameras aboard a spacecraft and Blender is able to plot the locations of these camera angles, along with the GPS co-ordinates of the spacecraft. That way we could build a 3D virtual world, to accompany the footage of the mission – so that users could re-watch the mission launch in a 3D setting with windows of video throughout the set.

    Your a champ bro! Keep humming open source to yourself. And don’t wait for anyone to get you started – we’ll follow you eventually …..

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