Drone was designed in order to provide assistance to the astronauts for all their activities. Thanks to a magnetic coupling system, a box is connected to the drone; any objects (up to 2 kg) can be put inside of the box and can be moved in a completely autonomous way. The propulsion system consists of 16 thrusters, working with a cold gas propeller (CO2).Thanks to the magnetic coupling, it is possible to add a camera,or any others and therefore the drone can fulfill several techinical functions.

This project is solving the ZERO GEE Bee – Your Friendly Neighborhood Drone challenge.


The project is about a New Drone working in microgravity condition,0 g, which has a support function for the ISS equipment.

The Problem

Starting from the already existing project VERTIGO SPHERE, read on Nasa website, we have designed a drone with an hooking system for the objects transportation and defined an appropriate geometry for our use. It is necessary to move a load of 2 kg max, using one or more compartments located on the bottom surface of the drone. The biggest problem is to optimize the configuration changing the propulsion zone and the control system. Adding new masses to the drone, the gravity center position changes, so the control system has to re-balance the inertial forces generated. In addition it is necessary having a right sized thrust in order to adapt the drone movement with the environment around him. Another problem is the right hooking system for the storage compartment. In principle, it needs to assign the right shape to the drone and allocate the holes for the thrusters. Then, are assigned the structure material, the board instrumentation, the hooking system and the positions of the compartments in order to solve the problem of the object stability inside of them.


Firstly, it was decided that the right drone shape is a simple parallelepiped with rounded corners. It is the best decision because it is necessary having sufficient space for the tank, the internal instrumentations, and because this configuration permits an efficient connection with the compartment. In addition the drone is equipped with an attitude control system and this shape permits to realize the control during the navigation. So the drone estimated volume is 3*E-3 meter^3
Secondly, it was decided the right box shape and the hooking system.


The propulsion system works with a cold gas propeller, in particular CO2. On the drone are located 16 thrusters on each lateral face. On each face two of them are located on the same support and alimented by the same pipe. It is possible to switch from one to other by a valve which can select the right thrust direction.


The choosen materials are: aluminium for the structure skeleton and composite fiber for the skin. In addition the compartment is realized with the same external material and rubber layer for the internal upper face. This help the object to be stabler inside the box providing an appreciable friction.

Coupling system

The proposed solution for the hooking system is a magnetic coupling. There are four holes on the bottom drone surface. They have a metallic plate at the end of each hole. The innovation of this project is versatility in order to transport different shape objects. In fact, every objects presents a magnetic platform on the top and in this way the coupling between the drone and the box/camera/any other is obtained.


The main goal of the drone is the object transportation. So it is present a box designed in order to contain up to two kg of internal payload. To make the object stabler in the box two couple of containment strip. It can take pictures if it is magnetically equipped with a cam, and it can also interact with astronauts for the managment of the activities..

Future developments

The drone could be automatic and interactive with vocal command, it could communicate with the space operator, identifying the problems, and finall, last but not least, it could go out the ISS with an appropriate protection shield.(Extra vehicular activities)


Project Information

License: NASA Open Source Agreement 1.3 (NASA-1.3)

Source Code/Project URL:


Presentation for Local Challenge -
Video -


  • Fabrizio Gambardella
  • Fabio Limatola
  • Angelo Esposito
  • Angela Iannuzzo
  • Sandro Sabatino
  • Antonio  Todisco