Pin the Payload on International Space Station (ISS) Game

Copyright 2012 Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5)

Pin the Payload on the International Space Station (ISS) game is a HAL5 education outreach activity. The purpose of the game is to educate the players on the main facts about the ISS, its major international payloads (or modules) and their locations on the ISS. The game was designed by HAL5 using images provided by NASA. The game can be ordered directly from the manufacturer by other NSS Chapters, schools, and non-profit organizations. The ISS image used came from NASA poster [NASA Document Number: EB-2010-03-00020], and placed on a custom made Muerase® magnetic dry erase board by Digital Designed Solutions, Inc. of Charlotte, NC.

HAL5 obtained approval from NASA Headquarters for use and modification of the original NASA image for the game. The list of changes can be found at the bottom of the page. Six ISS payloads were identified for game play and consist of European, Japanese, Russian and United States modules/payloads, the Canadarm2, and a large Solar Panel. Each payload was reproduced as a magnet for game play.

ISS Game Pin the Payload on the ISS Game Board
ISS Game Pin the Payload on the ISS Game Pieces
ISS Game Pin the Payload on the ISS Game Play at Astronomy Day 2012

Cost and Dimensions

The original cost of the game to HAL5 included the initial graphics fee that future ordering would not be assessed. Below is a general listing of the game prices if one were to order from Murease Graphics (803-329-9682) in 2012. The game board also comes with necessary hardware to attach to a dry wall. Additional hardware may be necessary depending on the setup. The game board, in 2012, carries a five-year warranty directly from Murease Graphics.

Estimate of the Pin the Payload on the ISS Game Cost (Excluding Shipping and Tax)
Quantity Description Price
1 19.25 inches (h) x 30 inches (w) Game Board $90
1 Set of 6 ISS Payloads Game Pieces Magnets $24
Sub Total $114

Game Specifications
International Space Station Board:
Outer: 30.25 in x 19.5 in
Inner: 28.75 in x 18.2 in
Magnets (Payloads): 1 set
American (Module): 1 in x 3 in
American (Solar Panel): 1.25 in x 6.275 in
Canadian: 1.375 in x 2 in
European: 1.75 in x 1.375 in
Japanese: 2.5 in x 2 in
Russian: 1 in x 2.75 in
Board Care
Wipe with dry erase eraser. Clean with soft cloth and dry erase cleaner or a solution of 25% isopropyl alcohol and 75% water (1:3 ratio). Do not use EXPO brand low order marker. Do not use wipes that contain ammonia chlorides or disinfectant.

Game Play

The Pin the Payload on the International Space Station game was debuted at the 2012 VBAS Astronomy Day on October 20, 2012 as part of the HAL5 outreach exhibit. In addition to the visual of the game board drawing the players to the game. An explanation of the ISS was given to all audience members according to their understanding, which increased their interest in the ISS and the game. This game was well received.

A parent typically assisted children younger than five. Children under the age of five would say the name of the part and then place it on the ISS without using a blindfold. For children older than 5 and adults, a blindfold was used. The competitive part of the game was established for the children really trying to aim well. They were delighted with their placement once the mask was removed.


  1. Place the players in order. Each player will then select one of the five national payloads or solar panel magnets
  2. Place each player 6-15 feet from the game board at a place marked with tape (optional)
  3. Blind fold the current player
  4. Turn player around two times and place them facing the game board
  5. Ask player to walk toward and place their magnet on the game board
  6. Measure the distance between the magnet and it corresponding area on the game board, where the center of each is denoted by a black dot.
  7. Outline magnet with a dry erase marker and remove and place it in the magnet selection area and place the participant's initials with in the outline area
  8. Note the distance on a piece of paper with the participant's name
  9. Repeat for each player
  10. The player that has the closest placement will be the winner. Awards for the winners and players may be given, if desired.

Brief History of ISS Payloads Used in the Game

Robert Bijvoet, M.S., HAL5 Vice President, Former ISS Payload Integration Manager, Boeing

All the individual piece parts of the International Space Station (ISS) were delivered either by the Russian Space Agency (RSA) using Russian rockets or by NASA using the now retired Space Shuttles. The cargo bay of the Space Shuttle, also called the payload bay, carried most of the ISS hardware on numerous voyages. Everything not part of the Space Shuttle itself mounted in the Cargo Bay or in the Space Shuttle Middeck was considered a payload.

These big items located in the payload bay included the living and experiment modules provided by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA). Other payloads carried in the Space Shuttle included the Port and Starboard Truss segments, Heat rejection Subsystem (HRS) Radiators, numerous solar panels, External Storage Platforms (ESP), The Mobile Base System (MBS), Dextre (also known as Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator), Express Logistics Carriers (ELC), Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (AMS), and the Canadarm2. The Canadarm2, Mobile Remote Servicer Base System (MBS), and Dextre were provided by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

The original Canadarm was a part of the Space Shuttle itself and was mounted on the edge of the cargo bay. The Spacelab, SPACEHAB, and Multi Purpose Logisictis Modules (MPLM) modules, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Wake Shield Facility, Space Radar Laboratories, Getaway Specials (GAS cans), numerous satellites, probes as well as pallets were also among the payloads carried in the shuttle cargo bay. Many of these "payloads" also had payloads inside or on them (i.e. experiments, replacement hardware, food, clothes, and lots of other hardware which allow astronauts to live, sleep, and work in space).

ISS Modules delivered by the Space Shuttle include:

  • Node 1 "Unity" - NASA (American)
  • Node 2 "Harmony" - NASA (American)
  • Node 3 "Tranquility" - NASA (American)
  • Destiny Lab - NASA (American)
  • Quest Joint Airlock - NASA (American)
  • Mobile Servicing System (MSS) (Canadarm2) - CSA (Canadian)
  • Cupola Observatory - ESA (European)
  • Columbus - ESA (European)
  • Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) - JAXA (Japanese)
  • JEM Experiment Logistics Module (ELM) - JAXA (Japanese)
  • Mini-Research Module 1 Rassvet (Dawn) - RSA (Russian)
  • Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) - Italian Space Agency (ASI) (European)

Modifications to the original ISS image are summarized below:

  • The ISS partner countries flags were removed from the top and placed at the bottom left
  • The following text was added to the bottom of the image:
    • "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is acknowledged for the original visual material, which was used to create this game."
    • "This game was created by the Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5), a chapter of the National Space Society. Founded in 1983, HAL5 is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3), grassroots, space educational/advocacy organization ("
  • The image of the ISS Mobile Servicing System (MSS), also known as Canadarm2, was added.

For more information about, question or feedback on the Pin the Payload on the ISS Game, please feel free via email.