SpacePet Idea and Robot Companions.

documentation, Projects

Someone will be first to put artificial pets in space; why not NASA and the US of A? The watchdog, canary in a coal mine, and stress reducing potential of an artificial pet is potentially significant for astronaut health and productivity. Artificial pets have proven to give some of the positive aspects of a living pet. The time is coming when more and more people will live long-term in places like the space station and planetary bases where real pets can not survive.

I’ve been passionate about supporting space exploration as long as I can remember. This idea grabbed hold of me when I was in graduate school in 2006. I was inspired by the way the Tribbles on the original Star Trek TV show were so attractive to the crew of the Enterprise – and to the viewers, that that episode became the most popular of the series. At the same time I’ve always been struck by how the necessarily-cold aesthetic of the International Space Station is in need of humanizing.


Hi-Seas Project

Mars habitation dome project in Hawaii.
Hi-Seas Project:
Simon Engler‘s work a Rover, Romibo and Pleo bots.
2 minutes in to this video is his covered in blue fur like the SpacePet: Discover Magazine, A Day In the Life of a Fake Astronaut


Three SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) are up on the International Space Station right now waiting to be covered in green fur!

Other Robots



I built a few prototypes in 2006 through 2008 while in graduate school at NYU. During that research I learned that MIT and NASA had built the SPHERES and my project went cold as I researched I how much time and energy that SPHERES took, and how well it was already being done. Every year though, I’d do a bit more research of ways to build a prototype because I love imagineering the idea of an artificial pet. I spent a lot of time imagineering a prototype that could be tested on a “vomit comet” plane during bouts of reduced gravity, specifically the Zero Gravity Corporation’s research flights costing about $7000.00.

I spec’ed out everything from ducted fan jets in RC planes embedded in styrofoam spheres to Arduino-powered hexacopter platforms put onto a sphere to repurposing DIY blimp kits. But fans spin, and in zero gravity, that will also spin the machine holding the fan.

I also thought of using Piezo fans as tiny thrusters, because they don’t spin.

My favorite wacky idea was using three gyroscopes to stabilize a sphere and control its orientation, and then have a few thrusters to move it. I was inspired by a Stanford University project that is exploring what they call Exploration Hedgehogs that use three internal gyros There exists a three-gyro experiment on the ISS using three CD players



Thoughts on Private Space Entrepreneurs, Industry, Exploration and Sustainability


In progress…

I’ve been following the private space industry since I covered the DC-X Launch in 1993 in White Sands, New Mexico and saw rocket lanches and bought stock in SpaceDev before it went private.

I’m using this post as a place to keep my links and share them with interested people. Suggest a source of info if you want in the comments!

Space is the place! Our backyard beckons. Many doubters persist, ironically often environmentalists. I say ironic, because I feel that biggest gains in sustainable practices will come in a large part from experiences we have in space. Solar panels, recycling (everything), small efficient living space design, weather, crop, and water data, all benifit greatly from knowledge we’ve gained by using satellites and spaceships. If you look at the data, research, benefits of satellites and science in space, and the future of research, sustainability, recycling, solar, mining, I  believe space becomes a natural place.

There’s two other bigger reasons. One, those few humans who’ve seen the earth from orbit almost all report a moment that forever leaves them more sensitzed to our planet as fragile, rare, interconnect system. Two, the radiation soaked, life-as-we-know-it devoid, vacuums of space is a much less negative impact to our environment as a place to mine for ore then a forest in a jungle

Here’s what I’m tracking and why:


Private space companies

Private space companies that trade publically

  • Orbital Sciences (ORB)
  • Astrotech (ASTC)