About the X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge
Johnson Space Center personnel install the loft designed and manufactured by the 2011 X-Hab Challenge winning team, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge is a university-level competition designed to engage and retain students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines. NASA will directly benefit from the competition by sponsoring the development of innovative concepts from universities which may result in innovative ideas and solutions that could be applied to exploration habitats.
The challenge is run by the National Space Grant Foundation for the Habitation Systems Project team at Johnson Space Center, which is part of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems Program. The challenge is for a senior and graduate level design course in which students will design, manufacture, assemble, and test an inflatable loft that will be integrated onto an existing NASA built operational hard shell prototype.
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On March 20, 2012, NASA released a call for proposals for the 2013 challenge, inviting students to design, manufacture, assemble and test systems for use on NASA's deep space habitat prototype. NASA announced on May 30, 2012 that five teams have been selected to participate in the 2013 X-Hab Challenge: California State Polytechnic University, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, University of Alabama in Huntsville, and University of Colorado at Boulder.
On July 22, 2011 NASA announced the selection of four teams to compete in the 2012 challenge, from Oklahoma State University; University of Maryland, College Park; Ohio State University; and University of Bridgeport, Conn. The undergraduate students will design, manufacture, assemble and test their concepts and hardware. A panel of engineers and scientists will assess their progress at each stage of the competition. The National Space Grant Foundation will fund the cost of the teams' design development and their participation in testing in summer 2012 at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.
University teams from Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, and Maryland were chosen for the finalist phase of the first X-Hab competition. In June of 2011 at Johnson Space Center, the NASA-Habitat Demonstration Unit (HDU) Project conducted a head-to-head competition for successfully designing and demonstrating an attachable inflatable habitat "Loft" (2nd level attachable) concept given a list of requirements for the design. In July 1, 2011, the University of Wisconsin-Madison was announced as the winner of the 2011 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge.