Astrojax

Astrojax in Space
As part of NASA's TOYS IN SPACE program, astronauts on the international space station played with a set of Astrojax on Tueday July 16, 2002. In a live broadcast on NASA TV they answered questions from school children invited by the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Asked whether Astojax works in space, Astronaut Peggy Ann Whitson said: "Astrojax are actually a lot of fun here in space too" and went on demonstrating the toy. And it worked indeed! It kept spinning even after the Russian astronaut let go of it and was beautifully floating through space...

Astrojax was invented by the American physicist Larry Shaw. While still at graduate school Shaw discovered the basic principle of Astrojax while playing with hex nuts and dental floss in a physics lab.
Intrigued by the complex patterns this simple arrangement created, he started to develop the idea. What first looked quite simple was actually very hard to solve mathematically. It took almost two years and hundreds of prototypes before Shaw decided on a model and had the principle patented.

Finding the right company to produce the toy was the next hurdle. Like many other breakthrough inventions, Astrojax was not understood by the large established toy companies since it didn't fit in their standard categories. Shaw formed a toy company himself which produced Astrojax before he finally met a partner with a record in making and promoting unusual and innovative motion toys. Since the year 2000 the Swiss toy company ACTIVE PEOPLE has taken charge of production and worldwide distribution of Astrojax.

Astrojax wins prestigeous toy awards in the United States and already has three different categories in the Guinness Book of Records.

A page from Larry's notebook and early prototypes of Astrojax