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Guardians of the Galaxy visit (real) ISS for 3D-printed Zune, STEAM

May 1, 2023

— Before "The Guardians of the Galaxy" launch into movie theaters this weekend, Rocket and Cosmo are making a pitstop at the International Space Station to help engage students in the future of space-based 3D printing and to pick up a replacement for Star-Lord's Zune music player.

The crossover between sci-fi and science fact is the product of a new partnership between RedWire, the company operating the Additive Manufacturing Facility on the space station, Microsoft and the ISS National Laboratory. Through a sponsorship from the latter, Redwire and Microsoft intend to 3D print a Zune on the ISS to demonstrate manufacturing in microgravity and help promote STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math) education.

"Space is critical to inspiring future generations. Redwire is proud to bring together our own super hero team with Microsoft and 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' to help educate and inspire students in the real world to pursue careers in STEAM," said Mike Gold, Redwire chief growth officer, in a statement.

As part of the collaboration, Microsoft is re-launching as a website for related resources, including a free virtual classroom video, a teacher's guide that provides students with behind-the-scenes access to how 3D printing works in space and additional materials supporting coding skills and describing STEAM careers.

Don't let the music stop. Click to enlarge video in new pop-up window. (Microsoft)

Starting today (May 1), fans of all ages can visit the website to explore content inspired by the new Marvel movie "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," including a custom spot that shows the Guardians arriving at the ISS with a battle-worn Microsoft Zune — Star-Lord's music device in the film — to be fixed by using the space station's 3D printing capabilities.

"As a global champion for STEAM education, Microsoft is working with Redwire to bolster outreach to students by drawing inspiration from the science and technology themes in 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,'" said Steve Kitay, senior director for Microsoft Azure Space.

This is not the first time that the Guardians have interacted with the space station. In 2016, Marvel Custom Solutions lent the likenesses of Rocket and Groot to the official mission patch representing all of the science payloads launching that year to the ISS National Laboratory. Two years later, the talking raccoon and tree-like creature were back to inspire students to design either a biological or technology-based experiment to be carried out aboard the space station.

This new project has also inspired a mission patch, this time featuring Rocket and Cosmo, the latter a Soviet-era space dog who joins up with the Guardians. The commemorative insignia shares the same shape as the Guardians' own suit icon and depicts both Rocket and Cosmo, as well the ISS and Quill's 3D-printed Zune.

Marvel Studios' "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," which stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff, opens in U.S. theaters on Friday (May 5).

This article has been edited to remove an incorrect reference to a separate Space Act Agreement between NASA and Microsoft.


A (simulated) Microsoft Zune floats by a window inside the Cupola aboard the International Space Station in a new spot featuring "The Guardians of the Galaxy." A 3D printer on the space station will be used to create the Zune in an effort to engage students in STEAM education and the future of manufacturing in space. (Microsoft)

A mission patch representing Microsoft and Redwire's partnership features Rocket and Cosmos from the new film, "The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3," opening in theaters on May 5, 2023. (Redwire)

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