The Challenge | Design by Nature

Design an autonomous free-flyer to inspect a spacecraft for damage from Micro-Meteoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD).


SpaceBall aims to improve the astronauts safety by utilizing Oobleck, IR, 3D vision with AI and smart mesh technology.


SpaceBall uses cameras to create 3D pictures and they are scanned with an AI to spot damage on the surface of the heat shield.

IR 3D Scanning will help to find the level of damage in Space shuttle.

Adding the IR 3D scanner to the autonomous SpaceBall to identify the depth of damage. 3D model of the damaged can be evaluated with AI.

Information build up and teaches the AI even more. Data accumulation helps the ISS to inspect what points of the structures are most likely to be hit by MMODs

The basic idea behind the Smart Mesh is this:

You need to feel the pain to know where the damage is.

First barrier between the MMODs and structures of shuttle is the pillow filled with oobleck liquid.
1. The Oobleck restricts the damage

2. After the hit, colorful liquid will mark the damaged spot

Sensory skin is already being developed already by NASA.

Liquid to mark the damage would be oogbleck.
Oobleck pouch would be made so, that the liquid form of oobleck would be sucked to the threads of the outer surface of oobleck pouch.

3. Coordinates are sent to Autonomous free-flying drone


Extravehicular Robotic Camera is being already developed


4. Coordinates guide the free-flying drone directly to the damaged part and the drone can position itself even more accurately by using the colored mark made during the impact. The AI is used to evaluate the 3D scan of the damage.

This saves time and man hours by being autonomous and informing the crew of ISS only in the severe cases

Usage of smart mesh from Space to Earth:

Our aim is to monitor the structure of the shuttle and increase the safety features. In the same manner, we can monitor all the structures which are not managed by humans.

Extended usage of free-flying drone and smart mesh:
We can regularly monitor the damages of bridges, Pylons, Towers, Tallest buildings, Dam walls and its shutters, Nuclear power plant reactors, aircraft pylons, Wifi-balloon called loon etc.

By regular monitoring of damages/ changes in structures, we can achieve the longer life span and increasing the safety.


SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.