The 2023 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Competition invites university teams to develop concepts that will help NASA pioneer the future of space exploration and extend humanity’s presence further into the solar system.
The 2023 themes focus on lunar and Martian long-term habitation, tourism business architecture, port technology, and an orbiting servicing, logistics, and observation station.
The 2023 themes are:
- Homesteading Mars – Develop a crewed human exploration architecture of Mars that can enable astronauts to survive on the surface of Mars for at least seven years with minimal support from Earth
- Lunar North Pole Tourism – Develop a profitable business case and associated architecture for bringing tourists to the lunar north pole, using a mix of NASA-derived and in-development commercial systems.
- Lunar Surface Transporter Vehicle – Develop a vehicle concept for offloading, moving, deploying, and supporting payloads on the lunar surface, up to the scale of habitats.
- Multi-use Platform – Develop an architecture and system concept for a platform that provides spacecraft services and logistics, as well as space observations and communications, deployed to and operated from the Earth-Moon First LaGrange Point (L1) in cislunar space.
“Space exploration is on an exciting trajectory. These competition themes link student ideas to the work being done at NASA and within the space industry. Not only is it important to think big, it’s also vital to envision the systems to support the infrastructure necessary for humans to thrive beyond Earth. This competition is about both: inspiration to think outside the box, and excellent engineering tied to well-thought-out application,” said Pat Troutman, human exploration strategic analysis lead at NASA’s Langley Research Center. “We’re very excited to see what proposals come in March next year.”
Interested undergraduate and graduate university student teams and their faculty advisors should submit a Notice of Intent by October 12, 2022, and submit proposals and videos by March 13, 2023. Respondents are asked to pay special attention to the following proposal expectations:
- Synergistic applications of NASA’s planned current investments
- Supporting engineering analysis and justification of assumptions
- Unique combinations of the planned elements with new innovative approaches / capabilities / technologies to support crewed and robotic exploration of the solar system
- Realistic assessment of costs for technology maturation, system development, and production and operations
Based on review of the team proposal and video submissions in March, up to 14 teams will be selected to advance to the final phase of the competition – presenting their concepts to a panel of NASA and industry judges in a competitive design review at the 2023 RASC-AL Forum in Cocoa Beach, Florida next June.
Each finalist team will receive a $6,500 stipend. The top two overall teams will be awarded with additional travel stipends to present their concept at an aerospace conference in 2023.
RASC-AL is open to undergraduate and graduate students studying disciplines related to human space exploration, including aerospace, bio-medical, electrical, and mechanical engineering, and life, physical, and computer sciences. RASC-AL projects allow students to incorporate their coursework into space exploration objectives in a team environment and helps bridge strategic knowledge gaps associated with NASA’s vision. Participating students have the opportunity to interact with NASA officials and industry experts and develop relationships that could lead to participation in other NASA student research programs.
RASC-AL is sponsored by the Moon to Mars Architecture Development Office within the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters and by the Space Mission Analysis Branch at NASA’s Langley Research Center. It is administered by the National Institute of Aerospace.
For more information about the RASC-AL competition, including complete theme and submission guidelines, visit: