Press Release

NASA Challenge Invites Students to Design Space Habitats

By SpaceRef Editor
April 1, 2013
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NASA Challenge Invites Students to Design Space Habitats

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.

College and university students now have a chance to help design a deep-space habitat. The Exploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge, first offered in 2010, is now accepting applications for the 2014 challenge.

But they need to act fast. May 1, 2013 is the deadline for student teams to submit their plans for designing, manufacturing, assembling and developing 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, sample handling tools, stowage systems and habitat layout designs. This year, students from multiple disciplines may choose projects from a variety of possibilities such as photovoltaic solar arrays, in-space manufacturing workstations, virtual window telepresence systems and habitation systems. Students will work together on potential solutions to the challenges future astronauts may face as they live and work farther and farther away from Earth.

“X-Hab is a win-win for NASA and students — human space exploration greatly benefits from students’ energy and creative designs, and students get a terrific boost from their direct interaction with NASA experts,” said Lora Bailey, Deep Space Habitat project manager at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We all share in the excitement that student designs could become the basis for future human habitat technologies and concepts!”

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 benefit directly from the innovative habitation-related concepts and technologies.

The challenge is run by the National Space Grant Foundation for the Deep Space Habitat project team at Johnson, a part of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Program. The goal of for the X-Hab Challenge is to help NASA inspire the workforce and explorers of the future. Winners will receive between $10,000 and $20,000 to produce functional products based on their designs. Proposals are due May 1, and awardees should expect to deliver their product to NASA in May or June 2014.

To learn more about the X-Hab Challenge, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.