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NASA has enlisted Freelancer to crowdsource solutions on the International Space Station

NASA’s humanoid robot R2 at work on the International Space Station. Image: NASA.

Living in a no-gravity environment poses some interesting problems for astronauts, but it’s something Australian tech company Freelancer hopes to help solve.

NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) has teamed up with to help design several CAD models of tools to be used by the first humanoid robot in space, Robonaut 2 (R2).

R2 is an astronaut assistant and is currently based on the International Space Station.

NASA’s tournament lab normally runs much larger and more complex challenges but the group has realised there are a number of much simpler and smaller tasks which could be farmed out on sites like Freelancer.

The collaboration is part of NASA’s pilot project which is looking at how crowdsourcing design can help tech development. NASA is also interested in engaging public communities in helping to contribute to the efforts of space exploration.’s CEO Matt Barrie says, “crowdsourcing solutions has become an essential part of creativity and innovation and that there is a strong demand to develop ingenious and world ­leading solutions online.”

The NASA challenge contests will be sent out to Freelancer’s 16 million registered users around the world. The tasks include creating a model of a flashlight used by R2 in low visibility environments to assist humans and building a 3D model of a grappling hook that’s used to tether astronauts to a structure.

“We look forward to collaborating with NASA on the cutting edge of space exploration, and seeing the CAD designs our freelancers produce for Robonaut 2,” Barrie said.

Here’s R2 in action on the space station.

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