February 2, 2013
Solar System Express has created a product that allows undergrad students, hobbyists, and small tech firms (or basically anyone on a simple level) to write code to create space-compatible hardware: the gravity development board, an electronic prototyping board.
“Sol X,” as the company has been called, currently has three models – the E Series (for creating Earth-based technology), M Series (for creating Mars- or other planetary-based technology), and S Series (open space-based technology).
With the gravity development board, Sol X aims to harness the power of innovation from lots of different sources by making it easy to create. Blaze Sanders, one of Sol X’s founders and CEO, says Solar System Express is interested in helping students and small businesses innovate in their garages. “The idea behind the board is flexibility. People can create what they want to create,” he says.
The goal is to bring ideas to life with technology that is lower cost, easier to use, and could help get people back in space more efficiently and often. And as part of the new space tech industry, the very long-term vision of Sol X is to help make human settlements in space.
Users have already created a variety of things on the board, including unmanned aircraft vehicles, scanning electron microscope controllers, and a worm robot. The staff of Solar System Express has also used the board to create prototypes for other clients, including goggles for a space skydiving suit and a movement sensor (normally used in space) that can help tennis students improve their swing.
The board is available for direct sale to students targeted through universities like Johns Hopkins, which is hosting a hackathon with the board. It will also be featured in training sessions by teachers as a way to familiarize students with the technology.
Expansion to African universities, on a similar model, is a next step for the company. The simple “garage-level innovation” approach has the capacity to harness the ideas of students, and the global population at large, to make life better.
Guest author Kaitlynn Hendricks is a systems builder and a solution-focused, broad-scale economist. She works as a business developer in Washington, DC, whereby she spends her days pursuing, supporting and telling stories about ventures in development and stewardship of globally-conscious, locally-focused networks of human, physical, and liquid capital. She enjoys timeless and occasionally avant-garde fashion, reading things that are just a little bit too complicated to really understand, relentlessly challenging the status quo, and exploring the city on her vespa. You can follow her on Twitter @sophistikaty.
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