NASA is working with eight U.S. universities on new technology projects for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars, as part of the 2016 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge.
The challenge, which is led by NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation, has teams designing systems, concepts and technologies that will help improve NASA’s exploration capabilities and provide undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in technology development.
“These strategic collaborations lower the barrier for university students to assist NASA in bridging gaps and increasing our knowledge in architectural design trades, capabilities and technology risk reduction related to exploration activities that will eventually take humans farther into space than ever before,” said Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) division.
Teams are encouraged to use multidisciplinary approaches, partner with experts and industry and engage in outreach. The experience is designed to enhance the science, technical, leadership and project skills for the selected student teams and encourage studies to pursue spaceflight-related disciplines.
Student teams submitted proposals earlier this year. Their selection kicks off a year-long process covering the 2015-2016 academic year. Project teams will meet a series of milestones to design, manufacture, assemble and test their systems and concepts in close cooperation with members of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. NASA staff from the directorate’s Space Life and Physical Sciences and AES divisions will work with students in areas including additive manufacturing, advanced life support systems, space habitation and systems for food production in space.
The X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge 2016 teams and projects are:
AES In-space Manufacturing sponsored:
- University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, Puerto Rico – Technology Development of Low-Power Required Manufacturing of Metals for the Zero-Gravity Environment
AES Beyond Earth Habitation sponsored:
- University of Maryland, College Park – Inflatable/Deployable Airlock Structures
- Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York – Human Centered – Designs for Mars Transit Habitat
- Oklahoma State University, Stillwater – Deep Space Mars Transit Habitat Layout Studies
AES Life Support Systems sponsored:
- University of South Alabama, Mobile – Development of a Concentration Swing Frequency Response Device
Space Life and Physical Sciences sponsored:
- Utah State University, Logan – Student Experimental Microgravity Plant System
- The Ohio State University, Columbus – Water Assurance: Improve Water Delivery of a Modular Vegetable Production System
- University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder– Performance Characterization and Enhancement of the Mars OASIS Space Plant Growth System
The X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge supports NASA’s research efforts to enable sustained and affordable human and robotic space exploration while contributing to the agency’s efforts to train and develop a highly skilled scientific, engineering and technical workforce for the future.
The National Space Grant Foundation will administer the grants, which range from $10,000 to $30,000, to the universities on behalf NASA to fund design, development and evaluation of the projects by the selected teams during the 2015-2016 academic year.