It’s an exciting day to be part of the HUNCH program! HUNCH (High school students United with NASA to Create Hardware) is a program where high school students learn how to design and fabricate products for space. To date, the program has 277 participating schools, over 2,500 students and has flown 1,340 items to the International Space Station (ISS). In July, Nanoracks, powered by Voyager Space, was selected by NASA to manage the HUNCH program as part of a multi-year award.
The program has several focus areas, including hardware manufacturing, design and prototyping, software development, sewn flight articles (also known as softgoods), a video and media challenge, an astronaut culinary challenge, and in 2022 added the NASA HUNCH Health and Biomedical Science Program. HUNCH works like an apprenticeship – the programs in the schools teach students skills and then immediately implement them to produce items needed by NASA, including flight hardware. Mentors and experts from HUNCH’s many programs are members of the Nanoracks team, giving Nanoracks in-house capabilities from varied disciplines that have been executing this program for years.
Today, the Nanoracks and HUNCH teams announced the delivery of the HUNCH ISS Ball Clamp Monopod, a Class 1E Flight Hardware item for technical demonstration and evaluation by the crew aboard the ISS. Class 1E is a NASA classification process that streamlines flight certification.
The hardware was HUNCH student designed and developed using engineering design processes, like CAD drawings, CAD study models and 3D printed engineering valuation units on the ball clamp and camera shoe. The Ball Clamp Monopod was a direct response to a crew debrief where they asked for better ways to secure cameras while in use on the ISS.
“Working on the ball clamp monopod alongside NASA HUNCH engineers, technicians, and machinists has been a truly memorable experience for me. I was given the wonderful opportunity to work with multiple schools across the nation and it has helped me grow the skills I need to become an engineer of the future. I can’t wait to hear what the astronauts think of our design!” -Luke (HUNCH Intern)
This was a team effort, encompassing multiple participating schools. The flight elements were programmed and fabricated by HUNCH machining schools using CNC machinery, and additive manufacturing schools produced the components for the ball clamp and inserts. The five units were assembled and certified by HUNCH team members and ISS program supporters.
The final units went through a final acceptance, bench review and hardware certification, all of which was completed over the past few weeks. Now, the hardware has been delivered to the Cargo Mission Contract to be prepared for launch on SpaceX-27 in February 2023.
The HUNCH program is a great pathway to involve students within the vibrant, growing commercial space industry. We are so proud of what our teams have accomplished together, and to our commercial and government partners – please reach out if you’d like to become part of this inspiring work.