eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge 2015

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xhab1 ( photo credit: Space Grant)

The eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) 2015 Academic Innovation Challenge is a university-level competition involving hands-on design, research, development, and manufacture of functional prototypical subsystems  for space habitats and deep space exploration missions. The Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Exploration Augmentation Module (EAM) project will offer multiple X-Hab awards of $10k – $20k each.

NASA will  benefit from the challenge by sponsoring the development of innovative concepts and technologies from universities, which will result in innovative ideas and solutions that could be applied to exploration.

University teams will design and produce functional products of interest to the EAM project according to their interests and expertise. The prototypes produced by the university teams may be integrated onto existing NASA-built operational prototypes. Universities may collaborate together on a project team.

For more information, see: http://www.spacegrant.org/xhab

NASA Ames Sustainability Base wins 2013 GEELA Award

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NASA Sustainability Base courtyard

NASA Ames Sustainability Base wins a 2013 GEELA Award for the category of Sustainable Practices or Facilities. The GEELA Program, which stands for Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards, is run by the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA).

Introduction

NASA’s first sustainable space “settlement” is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. “Using NASA innovations originally engineered for space travel and exploration, the 50,000 square-foot, lunar-shaped Sustainability Base is simultaneously a working office space, a showcase for NASA technology and an evolving exemplar for the future of buildings.” (Ames website). Through a combination of NASA innovations and commercial technologies, Sustainability Base leaves virtually no footprint.

Background

In 2007, NASA held a ‘Renovation by Replacement’ (RbR) competition designed to replace antiquated and inefficient buildings with new, energy-efficient buildings. NASA Ames Associate Director, Steve Zornetzer was inspired by sustainability architect Bill McDonough to apply the closed-loop thinking that NASA uses in space exploration to a green building on Earth.

Sustainability Base is one of the greenest Federal buildings ever constructed.   Although Sustainability Base isn’t a spacecraft, it was created with the vision that everything about the design would support both human and planetary well-being. As NASA Ames Center Director Pete Worden says, “This tiny planet we share is our only home.”

Power & Water

The building also generates generates most the power it needs through a variety of photovoltaics (solar panels), a highly efficient fuel cell and a small wind turbine. NASA spinoff Bloom Energy provided the advanced fuel cell.

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Arial view of NASA Sustainability Base

Sustainability Base uses uses 90 percent less potable (drinking) water than a traditional building of comparable size. NASA achieves this through use of a forward-osmosis water recycling system designed for use on the International Space Station.

 

Information and Smart Systems

Sustainability Base uses a sophisticated array of technology to go beyond being a “smart building” and move into the realm of the intuitive. The building can anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature and usage, and will be able to optimize its performance automatically in response to internal and external change.

Those who work at Sustainability Base are an integral part of keeping the building sustainable. Each individual has a personal dashboard that shows their energy usage at any given moment and even suggests energy conservation activities, as simple as lowering the shades or opening windows.

NASA Sustainability Base |2013 GEELA Awards website

ESA Closed Loop Life Support

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MELIiSSA loop

The European Space Agency’s MELIiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) research program “aims to develop the technology required for a future biological life support system for long term manned space missions.” In fact, MELISSA claims to go “further than other recycling systems used on Mir or the International Space Station which purify water and recycle exhaled carbon dioxide”, by attempting to “recycle organic waste for food production.”

See full article.