Engineering 101

NASA Envisions the First “Smart Homes” In Space

By Dawn Allcot

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As exploration missions venture beyond low-Earth orbit and to the Moon — and eventually Mars — NASA must consider automated technologies to keep habitats operational even when they are not occupied by astronauts. To help achieve this, NASA has selected two new Space Technology Research Institutes (STRIs) to advance space habitat designs using resilient and autonomous systems.

The selected proposals create two multi-disciplinary, university-led research institutes to develop technologies critical to a sustainable human presence on the Moon and Mars. The smart habitat, or SmartHab, research will complement other NASA projects to help mature the mission architecture needed to meet challenging exploration goals.

To complete the research and design the habitats, NASA has selected Habitats Optimized for Missions of Exploration (HOME) and the Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats Institute (RETHi).

Habitats Optimized for Missions of Exploration (HOME)

The HOME institute’s design approach for deep space habitats is one that relies not only on proven engineering and risk analysis, but also on emergent technologies to enable resilient, autonomous and self-maintained habitats for human explorers.

The HOME team is led by Stephen Robinson, principal investigator at the University of California, Davis, in partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder, Carnegie Mellon University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Howard University, Texas A&M University and the University of Southern California. Industry collaborators include Sierra Nevada Corporation, Blue Origin and United Technology Aerospace Systems.

Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats institute (RETHi)

RETHi seeks to design and operate resilient deep space habitats that can adapt, absorb and rapidly recover from expected and unexpected disruptions. The institute plans to leverage expertise in civil infrastructure with advanced technology fields such as modular and autonomous robotics and hybrid simulation. The institute plans to create a cyber-physical prototype testbed of physical and virtual models to develop, deploy and validate different capabilities.

Story via NASA

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