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NASA Selects University Finalists for Inflatable Loft Competition

Sept. 1, 2010

David E. Steitz 
Headquarters, Washington                                    
RELEASE: 10-206


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, 


For information about the Analog Field Tests, visit: 


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



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