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Student Teams To Design Deep Space Exploration Technology for NASA

Students in the X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge work on projects investigating new technologies for deep space exploration, including NASA’s planned journey to Mars.The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has picked eight teams from colleges and universities in the United States to help it with new technology projects for deep space exploration, including the agency's planned journey to Mars.

The eight teams chosen in the latest X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge will design systems, concepts and technologies intended to improve NASA's exploration capabilities, at the same time providing students with the chance to gain hands-on experience in technology development.

Projects the eight teams will work on through the 2015-16 academic year range from inflatable airlock structures and the manufacture of metals for a zero-gravity environment to deep space transit habitat layout studies and microgravity plant systems.

"These collaborations lower the barrier for university students to assist NASA in bridging gaps and increasing our knowledge related to exploration activities that will eventually take humans farther into space than ever before," said Jason Crusan, director of NASA's advanced exploration systems division.

Teams interested in the competition submitted their proposals earlier in the year. A preliminary design review will take place in November and the deadline for completion of the projects is May 11.

All projects will be evaluated by engineers and scientists in NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, the organization that manages the agency's human space operations in low-Earth orbit and beyond.

Grants to fund the projects, ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, will be administered by the National Space Grant Foundation.

Higher education institutions participating in the project include:

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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