NASA Selects University Finalists for Inflatable Loft Competition

WASHINGTON -- NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation have
selected university teams from Maryland, Oklahoma and Wisconsin as
finalists in a competition to design, manufacture, assemble and test
an inflatable loft.

NASA is challenging college students to design and rapidly develop
prototype concepts for inflatable habitat lofts for the next
generation of space explorers. The loft will be integrated onto an
existing NASA operational hard-shell prototype habitat. The winning
concepts may be applied to space exploration habitats of the future.

"This competition gives these students the opportunity of a lifetime,"
said NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun at NASA Headquarters in
Washington. "They'll design and build new hardware. If their team
wins, they'll get the chance to integrate their designs into a NASA
hard shell habitat and see it field tested next summer."

The inaugural eXploration Habitat, or X-Hab, Academic Innovation
Challenge finalists are:

Oklahoma State University
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Maryland

The competition is a university-level challenge designed to encourage
studies in spaceflight-related engineering and architecture
disciplines. This design competition requires undergraduate and
graduate students to explore NASA's work to develop space habitats,
while also helping the agency gather new and innovative ideas to
complement current research and development.

In June 2011 at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, the
NASA-Habitat Demonstration Unit project will conduct a head-to-head
competition among the three teams to successfully demonstrate an
attachable inflatable habitat "loft" concept, based on a list of NASA
requirements for the design.

The Houston competition will determine the winning team, which will be
awarded additional funds to integrate their design with the NASA
habitat during field testing in August and September 2011.

The National Space Grant Foundation will award the three teams $48,000
each to cover the costs of their design development and participation
in the head-to-head competition. An additional $10,000 will be
awarded to the team that wins the competition to offset their costs
of participating in the integrated field testing.

NASA's Exploration Mission Directorate and the Innovative Partnerships
Program are sponsoring this new technology challenge. NASA is
dedicated to supporting research that enables sustained and
affordable human and robotic exploration. This educational
competition contributes to the agency's efforts to train and develop
a highly skilled scientific, engineering and technical workforce for
the future.

For information about the competition, visit:


For more information about the Habitation Demonstration Unit project, visit:


For information about the Analog Field Tests, visit:


For information about NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist, visit:


Source: NASA

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