Before departing to the ISS, astronauts are allowed to pack some personal objects to be taken with them (see other question about packing).

What if an astronaut had some self-written software (for example a python script for managing their journal)? Would they be allowed to bring it to the ISS or are there specific tests it would have to pass before? Would they be allowed to run it on one of the debian based laptops (more on them in this question)?

And what about custom hardware (for example a t-shirt with LEDs run by a microcontroller)? Would it be allowed to bring personal devices that can run code? Are there any specific tests hardware would have to pass before being allowed?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ somewhat related: What information was stolen from JPL during the Raspberry Pi hack? Presumably more caution is exercised for things brought to the ISS be they Space Pi's or blinking tee shirts ;-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Aug 9, 2020 at 4:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ finnmglas, in response to a flag I have edited your post to use the gender neutral "they/their" pronouns for the hypothetical astronaut in question. For more information, see this meta post. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage Excuse me, I did not know this was an issue. I am German, and, for what I know, we (many germans at least) also use male pronouns whenever there is no gender implied. I did not mean to offend any females... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ @finnmglas No problem. I could tell you were unaware. That's why I included the link to the meta post for more info. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 13:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @finnmglas I have bad news for you: the german space agency (DLR) require its employees to write gender-neutral ... yes, even in german, yes even if it makes your word order sound unnatural ;-) $\endgroup$
    – CallMeTom
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 4:50

1 Answer 1


Fun, but not necessarily realistic, question.

Software: what reason would there be to "bring" any code that hasn't gone thru Mission Control review & approval, and is sent up via comms channels?

Firmware & hardware (your proposed tshirt): Have to pass rigorous safety and survivability tests, for no conceivable mission purpose. Expensive & pointless.

Granted any device with firmware, i.e. software that has no supporting comms hardware, can't pose a risk to all the onboard computers and control systems. It still carries safety risks, including RF interference.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.