NASA Wants Ideas from University Teams for Future Human Space Missions

Lunar Gateway with lander. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Teams of engineering students and faculty at U.S. colleges and universities have an opportunity to help NASA with innovative design ideas to meet the challenges of space exploration. The 2020 eXploration Systems and Habitation (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge supports NASA’s efforts to develop technologies and capabilities that will enable future human missions to the Moon, Mars and other solar system destinations.

In collaboration with the National Space Grant Foundation, NASA will offer competitively selected awards of $15,000 to $50,000 for the development of studies, functional products and solutions to enhance the human exploration of space. Entries are due April 26, 2019.

The 2020 X-Hab Challenge addresses six topic areas:

  • High Efficiency Heat Exchanger to Achieve Low-Power CO2 Deposition: Design and build a prototype of an air-to-air heat exchanger that operates in at least one of two required temperature ranges: 190-296K and/or 130-190K.
  • Integration of Field Results into Virtual and Augmented Reality Environments: Develop a program that integrates new mission data sets and field analogs into virtual and augmented reality environments.
  • Microgravity Gas-Liquid Separator for the Liquid Amine CO2 Removal System: Design and build a non-gravity-dependent benchtop-scale phase separator capable of separating incoming water and amine condensing from gaseous CO2.
  • Volume Optimization for Food Product During Deep Space Exploration: Develop a modular, scalable infrastructure to support food production that optimizes total volume and minimizes crew time requirements.
  • Development of a Design Database for the In-Space Manufacturing Project: Develop a part database that is capable of storing and distributing and includes parts from space systems, disposable and customizable items and crew personal items.
  • User Interfaces for Gateway Autonomous Operations: Design user interfaces for autonomous operations of the Gateway (including, all modules) while in crewed and uncrewed mode.

The X-Hab Challenge provides real-world, hands-on design, research and development opportunities for students interested in aerospace careers, while strengthening NASA’s efforts to optimize technology investments, foster innovation and facilitate technology infusion. Through strategic cooperation with universities, the agency intends to bridge gaps and increase knowledge in technologies, capabilities and operational approaches related to human spaceflight.

Previous challenges resulted in products NASA tested and evaluated for use in deep space. The products and technologies developed for the 2019 X-Hab Challenge will be further refined for next-generation exploration systems, and could eventually provide the basis for future demonstrations and missions. X-Hab is managed by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The agency plans to extend a permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit by building the Gateway in orbit around the Moon for use as a staging point for missions to the lunar surface and other destinations. Integrated systems are needed to safeguard and sustain people living and working in space, far away from Earth’s protective atmosphere and resources like food, air and water.

For more information on the X-Hab Challenge, visit:

https://www.spacegrant.org/xhab

To view past NASA X-Hab projects, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/technology/deep_space_habitat/xhab.

  • Robert G. Oler

    meanwhile SLS falls farther and farther behind

  • Paul_Scutts

    No call for experimental systems employing centrifugal force to artificially create weight (again). Sorry, they then can’t be too serious about achieving human destinations significantly beyond the orbit of the Moon (at least with current propulsion technologies). 🙁

  • Paul_Scutts

    Bob, it (SLS) is fulfilling perfectly it’s role within the USG’s OldSpace Benevolent Fund. Regards, Paul.

  • Robert G. Oler

    tabbi tabbi. SLS and Orion are fullfilling more a space policy role for the US government…but maybe we are saying the same thing

  • ThomasLMatula

    It’s keeping the pork flowing to the Old Shuttle workforce and firms, like Boeing and Lockheed, that aren’t able to adapt to the new space paradigm. Unforunately this will just result in a harder adjustment when the policy fails. That is always what happens when government subsidizes declining technologies.

  • ThomasLMatula

    The last I heard the Gateway was just going to be used for two weeks every year or so. When did it suddenly become a “permanent presence” beyond Earth orbit?

  • Robert G. Oler

    this has nothing to do with Boeing or Lockmart and everything to do with the workforce in congressional and senatorial districts nice try but no

  • duheagle

    LOL!

  • duheagle

    Hey, the Pyramids of Giza are a “permanent presence” and no one lives in them either.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Sure, they just happen to be the ones getting the contracts for SLS forced on them…

    Boeing and Lockheed spent decades spreading the work around those Congressional Districts for the very reason you mentions, not to mention making sure those Congress Critters knew who was providing those jobs.

    SpaceX on the other had don’t care. They just stiffed Los Angeles and moved the Starship/Super Heavy to Brownsville Texas because it makes sense to build, test and fly a big rocket in one location instead of distributed around dozens of states like the government contractors of Old Space.

  • ThomasLMatula

    That means we had a permanent presence on the Moon since June 2, 1966…

  • How about a hydraulic press in cis lunar orbit which takes sand from the Earth and pounds it into submission?

  • Robert G. Oler

    no

    NASA spent decades spreading the work around. itscalled the B1 lesson…t

    as a federal contractor my theory is if the federal governmentwants to spend money. I will try and get them to spend it on me 🙂

    “SpaceX on the other had don’t care. They just stiffed Los Angeles and
    moved the Starship/Super Heavy to Brownsville Texas because it makes
    sense to build, test and fly a big rocket in one location instead of
    distributed around dozens of states like the government contractors of
    Old Space.”
    as I have said …they are a software company

    stiffing people is what they do 🙂

  • ThomasLMatula

    So you admit that both Lockheed and Boeing are co-conspirators in moving pork to federal districts…

    Yes, pity the poor folks in California with their high taxes, multiple regulations and high cost of living for being stiffed by SpaceX. Really, could you imagine the California Coastal Commission allowing SpaceX to build a Saturn V class rocket on a state beach? He probably still be waiting to hear what forms he would need to fill out.

  • Robert G. Oler

    LOL there were federal contracts to be bid on and they did it. I would have a well (if it were something my flight training company could handle) I am not sure what you are trying to bang on here

    I think its stupid to build a Saturn V class booster “on the beach”. just darn near idiotic…all it says is that they cannot afford a hanger.

  • Robert G. Oler

    if you want me to ‘admit” NASA space policy is depressingly bad…then well you have not been paying attention to my comments. It is policy that is the problem but here is the key point of it all…without federal money “Starship” or whatever it is called will never fly 🙁

  • ThomasLMatula

    Or don’t want to waste the time to build one as Lockheed did during the war with its outside assembly lines.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Well it looks like Administrator Bridenstine has fires the first shots in the battle to kill the SLS/Orion Pork Monster.

  • Robert G. Oler

    no…this is not WW2 and airplanes are built in hangers the story you are telling is mostly legend and wrong

    they dont have teh money to build a hanger…and building one outside in the salt air and dirt is silly…but it wont go far anyway…

    Mars 2024 🙂

  • duheagle

    There’s plenty enough money from operations to finish SH-Starship – no federal money, or attached strings, required. But that shouldn’t matter. You don’t think it’s ever likely to fly anyway.

  • duheagle

    You are blinkered and parochial.

    What both the place and the way SpaceX has chosen to build StarHopper and SH-Starship says is that, based on the sheer size of SH-Starship, and the decision to go with stainless steel as the main structural material, SpaceX now views spaceship construction as having more in common with shipbuilding than with aircraft construction.

    Ships, including Navy capital ships, are not built indoors. At most, some of their bits are built in clear-span roofed shelters like the one we already see at Boca Chica. Do you also think it’s the case that Newport News, Ingalls and the rest of USN’s usual constructors “cannot afford a hangar?”

    SpaceX sees that SH-Starship, being the first – and, likely smallest – such “vessel” it will build is where the transition from aircraft to ship construction norms needs to take place. SpaceX will very likely follow SH-Starship up, at some point, with vehicles the size of the original ITS proposal or even larger. SH-Starship is SpaceX’s shipbuilding apprenticeship among many other things.

    Elon isn’t even the first rocket-builder to come to such a conclusion. The late Bob Truax, when he was designing Sea Dragon, approached both aircraft and shipbuilding companies for fabrication estimates. The shipbuilders’ quotes consistently came in at 10% or less of what the aircraft companies wanted to charge. Had Truax ever been able to raise the capital to make a go of Sea Dragon, he would have contracted with a shipbuilder to bend the metal.

  • duheagle

    SH-Starship are not airplanes, they’re ships. So they’re being built like ships, not airplanes. The U.S.S. Nimitz and the Queen Mary 2 were not built in hangars.

    And why, as a long-time pilot, do you keep misspelling that word? Hangars are for building/storing aircraft. Hangers are for storing clothing in closets.

  • Robert G. Oler

    whatever you want to believe. btw CVN’s are not built like you think that they are. parts of them are built whole in hangars (sorry spell check does that before I hit send…I had to change it) as sub parts and then attached to the ship.

    see how it works out…the problem now is no money but you think he has the money to finish it OK well see what happens. Mars 2024

  • Robert G. Oler

    hope you are correct.

  • ThomasLMatula

    You are just so used to see tax payer dollars spent by old space firms its hard for you to understand that Elon Musk behaves differently because its his money. Why waste on things that are needed?

  • duheagle

    CVN’s are built in chunks called “lifts” that each weigh less than the maximum capacity of the overhead crane at the drydock where they are assembled. Some lifts are built under a roof, some are not. The ship itself is assembled from lifts added one at a time in the open.

    SpaceX is not going flat broke on SH-Starship, it’s going flat out.