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2013 X-Hab Innovation Challenge Progress Update
February 11, 2013
 

The eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge is in its third year of providing an opportunity for NASA to support university students from around the country to advance technology for potential use on future deep space missions. This year, projects include a plant growth chamber, vertical and horizontal habitats, a universal power controller and dynamic storage systems.

The following teams have been selected as winners of the 2012-2013 competition and are currently in the development phase: University of Alabama, Huntsville; California Polytechnic State University, Pomona; Oklahoma State University; Texas A&M University; and University of Colorado.




University of Alabama, Huntsville: Microgravity Random Access Stowage & Rack System

The University of Alabama, Huntsville team adopted this general concept to develop their storage system. Cargo transfer bags, or CTBs, will be used for storing various items.
The University of Alabama, Huntsville team adopted this general concept to develop their storage system. The cargo transfer bags, or CTBs, will be used for storing various items.
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A team from the University of Alabama, Huntsville is well underway on their development of a storage system for long duration spaceflight. A handful of students with varying degree pursuits are using their expertise and creativity to develop a space saving, efficient storage system for miscellaneous objects to be installed on a deep space habitat (DSH).

The team's proposal was selected as one of five to receive further funding and support leading to the delivery of an actual piece of hardware in May 2013. The major considerations of the finished product to be submitted are minimizing mass, scalable design to accommodate various sizes and ability to sustain launch conditions.

The Alabama students have chosen to work with common, commercially available parts, including 80/20 hardware and Velcro, to complete the task efficiently and effectively. As always, safety must be taken into consideration to ensure that finished product will pose no unnecessary risks.



California Polytechnic State University: Vertical Habitability Layout and Fabrication Studies

Two cross section views of Cal Poly's vertical space habitat design.
Two cross section views of Cal Poly's vertical space habitat design.
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The winning team from Cal Poly Pomona is continuing their design of a vertically oriented space habitat that will be able to sustain life without any kind of resupply mission, as would be the case on any long duration spaceflight. Final specifications determined the habitat will be approximately 20ft by 24ft and able to sustain four astronauts for a 60 day mission.

Currently in the process of enhancing their final design, the students from Cal Poly have been looking at the big picture for a habitat to accommodate everything from food and clothing storage to scientific instrumentation and general living space.

Major components of their analysis have consisted of core organization, deploy-ability and digital fabrication. A physical, deliverable product will be constructed upon successful completion of concept design.



Oklahoma State University: Horizontally Oriented Inflatable Deep Space Habitat

A digital construction of OSU's horizontal habitat concept.
A digital construction of Oklahoma State University's horizontal habitat concept.
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The team from Oklahoma State University (OSU) has returned to continue their long history with the X-Hab program. This year's team will continue studying and analyzing the horizontal DSH. They will be working with the previously constructed mockup to allow for more in-depth analysis because they will be able to rely on previously conducted work.

The team's consideration for the habitat include sleeping accommodations, lighting, working space, storage and ventilation. They are also looking closely at how various modules and capsules will be able to function together.

The OSU students are closely looking at modular designs to allow a single space to be used for everything from eating to working to exercising, and more.



Texas A&M University: Wireless Smart Plug

Texas A&M University's finalized system architecture.
Concept rendering of Texas A&M's Wireless Smart Plug.
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The winners out of Texas A&M are working to develop a device to effectively monitor and control a deep space habitat's power usage and onboard equipment. It also should be able to isolate a single device for assessment and control. The team presented their design and has been approved to continue testing, building, procuring and assembling a final product.

A similar device will be critical on future long-duration space flights in order to use onboard power as efficiently as possible. The team's primary areas of consideration are the power control, communications, and form factor and fit.




University of Colorado: Remote Plant Food Production Capability

University of Colorado's concept of operation for a complete plant growth system. University of Colorado's concept of operation for a complete plant growth system.
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The winners from University of Colorado are undertaking the task of constructing a capability for growing a variety of plants, both for consumption as well as the benefit of oxygen/carbon dioxide cycling. Considerations range from monitoring and nutrient supply to selection of plants and autonomy.

Not only is the goal to create a system that is self-sustaining, but it is also to allow for a user to interface and interact with the plant system in a way that does not disrupt any autonomy put in place.

Besides the actual plant growth chamber, one of the greatest considerations for the team is a robotic arm that will enable remote interaction with the plants.

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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
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