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Mission Space Lab Guidelines

Everything you need to know to create an experiment idea for Mission Space Lab.

Program checklist

Experiment design

  • Must be likely to succeed in the three hour window and not require an unusual or infrequent event to occur.
  • Must not contain bad language or profanity.
  • Must not require any additional equipment or resources other than the Astro Pi computer.
  • Must not try to cause damage to the Astro Pi computer or other equipment.
  • Must not attempt to interfere with the operation of the Astro Pi computer or other equipment.
  • Must not depend on human interaction, such as a key press, to start or as part of the experiment.
  • Must not run for more than three hours. Experiments that exceed three hours will be terminated and lose data.
  • Must not need to be started at a particular time or on a particular date.
  • Must not require the ISS to be passing over a particular location on Earth.


  • Must use the Sense HAT LED matrix (‘Life in space’ only).
  • Must use at least one Sense HAT sensor or the Camera Module.
  • Must be designed for the actual Astro Pi hardware on the ISS. Remember that the hardware in your Astro Pi kit will be more powerful than the Astro Pi hardware on the ISS, so you will need to adapt your experiment program accordingly. Check the Mission Space Lab Phase 2 guide for more information.
  • Must not require any additional equipment or resources other than the Astro Pi.


  • Must be written using only the Python 3 programming language.
  • Must use only the Python modules available on the Flight OS.
  • Must save results in log files for you to analyse later, as outlined in the coding requirements. Files should not be opened in other areas of the SD card directory structure. Data should be written to disk regularly during the three hour experiment.
  • Must run for a maximum of three hours and terminate cleanly.
  • Must not use an absolute path for saving or reading files.
  • Must not open a socket or attempt any networking connection or attempt to communicate across a network interface.
  • Must not attempt to spawn other programs, or attempt to start or interfere with system processes.
  • Must not contain any pre-compiled code or obfuscated code.
  • Must not use multithreading.
  • Must not use filenames that do not meet the requirements listed in the Phase 2 guide.


  • Must not consume more than 3GB of storage space for the results.
  • Must not create any data files that are individually larger than 30MB.
  • Must not save photo or video files containing images of the interior of the ISS.


  • Please upload your program files in a zip file. If you have additional files that are required for the operation of your experiment, they can be included in the zip file too, but the zip file must contain a file called, which must be how your program is run.


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