Recycling Water for the Moon
06.24.08
Palmiscno assembles hardware components

Palmiscno's research at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center could help with missions to the moon and Mars. Image Credit: Kyle Palmiscno

After working on a spacecraft simulator at the University of North Dakota, where he attends school, Kyle Palmiscno found himself assisting with the design of the real thing, thanks to an internship at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
In which NASA student opportunity project did you participate, and how did you get involved in it?

I was an intern in the ESMD (Exploration Systems Mission Directorate) program. I was sponsored by the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium to go to Marshall Space Flight Center for the summer. I applied for the internship after working on a space capsule simulator with a professor from the Department of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota.

Explain the research you conducted through your NASA involvement, and why this topic is important.

I worked on the test equipment of the Exploration Water Recovery System. The system is one that has been designed for use on extended missions to the moon or Mars. This is an extremely important part of the life support systems that are designed for these missions. Since the amount of water that is needed to support a crew for a long mission is far too great a mass to carry, a system to recycle the water used is needed. The EWRS is that system.

What has been the most exciting part of your research?

I especially enjoyed working on this system because there are many pieces of equipment that have been specially designed for use in space. There are several aspects, such as microgravity, that normal engineers don't have to deal with when designing a system. Overcoming these extra constraints make a design such as the EWRS all the more complex.

What is your educational background, and what are your future educational plans?

I am a mechanical engineering major at the University of North Dakota. I will be graduating in May of this year. I plan to (eventually) continue on to get my master's degree.

What inspired you to choose the education/career field you did?

I have always been good at math and physics, especially problem solving. I like the concept of engineering, in that you can take a problem and come up with a detailed working solution through calculations and problem solving.

What do you think will be the most important things you'll take away from your involvement with NASA?

I think the biggest thing I will remember from this summer is the people. There were so many people with so many different specialties working on the same problems. Everybody I worked with enjoyed what they were doing and really believed in the importance of future space exploration. Working alongside people that have that much passion for what they do makes working hard enjoyable.

How do you think your NASA involvement will affect your future?

My specific job this summer involved a lot of hands-on type of work, preparing the test equipment for an upcoming experiment. Getting involved with the actual equipment and hardware really helped me to become more rounded as an engineer since engineering is much more than just formulas in textbooks.

What are your future career plans?

After graduation in May, I will be working at the Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D. It is a research facility devoted to the development of cleaner, more efficient energy and environmental technologies. Hopefully my work at the EERC will help me to find the specific area of engineering that I most enjoy and want to spend the rest of my career.

What advice would you have for other students who are interested in becoming involved with, or working for, NASA?

Get involved. On a lot of campuses there are aerospace-related projects or groups for students. My work on the space simulator helped me to get an internship. Anything you can do related to the space industry will help to get your foot in the door to the amazing opportunities that NASA has to offer.
Implemented by NASA in 1989, the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program contributes to the nation's science enterprise by funding research, education and public service projects through a national network of 52 university-based Space Grant consortia. These consortia administer projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Through Space Grant and other NASA college- and university-based projects, the agency continues a long-standing tradition of investing in the nation's education programs.

Related Resources
NASA National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program
ESMD Space Grant Program
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
NASA Education Web Site   →

David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services