You remember the Zune… Right?
As a 2000s kid myself, I have vague memories of Microsoft’s digital music player before its inevitable extinction in 2012. Now, thanks to cameos in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and other Marvel movies, Microsoft is bringing the Zune player back to life with the help of 3D printing.
Oh, and this will be happening onboard the International Space Station.
The company is collaborating with Redwire, an aerospace manufacturer, to 3D print a copy of Microsoft’s retro media player on the ISS, as announced by Redwire. The Zune has seen a slight resurgence in popularity thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where the device is riffed on as being a nostalgic touchstone for music lovers back in the day.
Unfortunately, Microsoft’s Zune was never able to live up to the hype. Released in 2006, just five years after Apple’s iconic first iPod, the Zune had a brief spell of success before dying out and eventually being discontinued in 2012, six years after its debut.
MP3 player of choice for Chris Pratt’s character, Star-Lord, the Zune becomes his newly acquired listening device after switching to it from his trademark Walkman. Star-Lord can also be seen jamming to tunes on the Zune in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, showing arguably more longevity in theatres than in real life.
With the third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy set to hit the big screen on May 5th, Microsoft took full advantage of the opportunity, launching a website centred around the device. It also includes a short ad in which the movie’s superheroes pay a visit to the ISS, with a space station astronaut handing Star-Lord a new Zune to replace his broken unit.
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) May 1, 2023
As part of its campaign, Microsoft will use Redwire’s Additive Manufacturing Facility on board the ISS National Lab to 3D print its long departed gadget.
Sadly, sometimes things are just too good to be true. A Redwire spokesperson confirmed that the mockup would not be able to play any music.
The spokesperson answered an inquiry from Gizmodo by stating, “This print is a tool, and this project is helping us leverage the excitement of the release of the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 movie as an opportunity to engage a new audience who loves science fiction and have them get to know more about the real science that happens on the ISS, including 3D printing.”
Despite the resurrection of one of 2006’s hottest listening devices, it looks like only one model will be made all the way up in space, making the prospect of 2023 Best Buy shelves being lined with countless Zunes nothing more than a dream.
Image credit: Microsoft