Would you dare to work on a solution that aims to help astronauts? It sounds crazy, right? However, this is exactly what Astro Team chose to work on during their time at the  European Innovation Academy.

During EIA Italy 2019, participants had the chance to work in partnership with Comau, an Italian industrial automation company specializing in processes and automated systems that improve corporate manufacturing production. 

The unique opportunity to work with Comau robots gave four different awards to this startup idea. We managed to gather Astro’s team members—spread between Italy, Spain, and the U.S—to share everything that this project plans to take to space

Are you ready to blast off with us? 

Meet the members:

Astro Team Members at EIA Italy

Team: Adrian Sager La Ganga—Politecnico di Torino, Francesca Legittimo—Politecnico di Torino, Davide Antonucci—Università degli Studi di Torino, Gabriele Vittori—Politecnico di Torino.  andRachel Buggé—Virginia Commonwealth University (in the middle).

1. What problem is Astro Team working on? 

Astro Team: An hour of work onboard the ISS is estimated to cost between 50k and 100k dollars, and each day astronauts have to exercise for at least two hours in order to counteract the effects of microgravity on their bodies. 

AstroMate is a proposed way to simulate the downward pressure of gravity in space to preserve astronauts’ spines and provide resistance to movements by using an exoskeleton in partnership with Comau

2. What were your biggest challenges during EIA?

Astro Team: Working on hardware and not software put us in a different spot. We had to organize ourselves to make things happen in a short period of time. Having to pivot and make changes was also a reality for our project.

Our customer persona was also very different from other projects. After all, we had to reach NASA, Tesla, and other companies that have space projects.

3. What has happened since the last day of the program?

Astro Team: We are currently working on documentation for a provisional patent and will be focused on it for the next six months. This is part of the Nixon Peabody Patent Innovation Award that we won at EIA.

4. What can you share about EIA days?

Astro Team Meeting

Davide: This was my second experience at EIA. In 2018, I worked as a volunteer, so I thought I had an idea of what was going to happen, but it was completely different from what I imagined. 

EIA is the place to dream big and try big ideas. You’re lead step by step through the process. It’s simply the best place to start.

Adrian at EIA wearing the Astro Mate

Adrian: The support of EIA is incredible. I felt like I didn’t have to be afraid of dreaming big, and that’s exactly what we did.

Francesca: It’s a life-changing experience. EIA mentors don’t let us give up. You simply find a new and improved version of yourself.

Rachel: Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. You’ll have road bumps—get ready to walk through them in all that entails. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for crazy things.

5. How’s AstroMate changing the world?

We will be making long space travels faster than we think—we might even colonize Mars. So, we need to work on solutions that allow us to make these long journeys.

AstroMate is a big project that will help space travellers have a healthy journey. 

Inspired by the Astro Team? Read more about the startup ideas created at EIA programs!