HOUSTON, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA is offering college and university students a chance to help design a deep space habitat. The Exploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge is accepting applications for the 2013 challenge, inviting students to design, manufacture, assemble and test systems for use on NASA's deep space habitat prototype.
Past projects have included an inflatable loft for crew sleeping quarters, plant growth systems and sample handling tools. This year, students in multiple disciplines can choose projects from a variety of possibilities, including photovoltaic solar arrays, a workstation to support human-robotic collaboration or a telepresence and holodeck conceptual system. Students will work together on potential solutions to needs future astronauts might have living and working outside Earth.
"Students will play a vital role in our critical early system planning and development," said Alvin Drew, a NASA astronaut and habitat systems project manager at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "Their designs could become the basis for the concepts and technologies that will make up the habitat we eventually send to space."
The X-Hab Challenge is part of a continuing effort to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, and provide a real-world challenge exposing them to engineering and design processes. NASA will directly benefit from the development of innovative habitation-related concepts and technologies that could be applied to future missions.
The challenge is run by the National Space Grant Foundation for the deep space habitat project team at Johnson, which is part of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems Program. The goal of for the X-Hab Challenge is to help NASA inspire the STEM workforce of the future and the next generation of explorers. Winners will receive between $10,000 and $49,000 to produce functional products based on their designs. Proposals are due May 2, 2012 and awardees should expect to deliver their product to Johnson in May or June 2013.