eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge 2010: FAQ

  1. Are we required to partner with the Space Grant program in our state or can we partner with a Space Grant program from another state?
    You are free to partner with any state based Space Grant program in the nation and are not limited to partnerships with the program in your state. Also, the solicitation does not require that a team partner with a Space Grant institution or the Space Grant program. All sections of the solicitation that mention Space Grant state "if applicable" and the eligibility requirements specifically state "or other US accredited university". Space Grant was mentioned in the solicitation for the purposes of identifying a possible, and in most cases likely, partnership for teams.


  2. Would you please explain to me how much assistance the “NASA Technical Expert” can or should provide to the university team?
    This is a student design/build competition and as such we do want the students to perform the work. However, we did want to encourage them to seek experts to provide mentoring and guidance as they deem necessary to strengthen their team and maximize their experience. A potential NASA Technical Expert should determine the level of “mentoring” that they wish to provide the students in their efforts and spell out that level of "mentoring" in a letter to the university.


  3. Is it OK to partner with industry?
    Multi-institutional teaming (academic, industrial, non-profit) collaborations are highly encouraged and should be detailed in the Resources section of the proposal. As a university student design competition, the design, manufacturing and testing efforts must be performed by university students. Non-academic collaborations should be limited to sponsorships, providing facility resources, and team mentoring.


  4. Is there a desired format for the notice of intent?
    Although highly encouraged, the notice of intent is non-binding and not required. Sufficient information should be included in the NOI to express your intent to propose. Material contained in the NOI will not be utilized in the proposal evaluation phase.


  5. Is there a desired format for the proposal?
    Details on the required content of the proposal are located in section 4.1 of the solicitation.


  6. Are there any restrictions on budget use (faculty and students)?
    All proposed expenses must be related to the work to be performed during the course of the design course and challenge. The proposed budget allocation will be used as one of several evaluation criteria. Reduction or full waiver of indirect costs are encouraged and may be considered as an University contribution to the project. There are no guidelines for the split of direct wages between faculty and students. It is required that at least part of the funds be used to fund a Research Assistant.


  7. Does this project need to be for a senior design class, or can it be independently run by students with the aid of a faculty advisor?
    Section 2 of the solicitation states that the PI (faculty member) must be a US citizen and they must currently teach a design course. Having the students enrolled in a design course allows for more structure and guidance by their faculty as well as accountability from the university. The faculty member can always teach a "Special Topics" course that the students would enroll in so that they could meet the course requirement.


  8. Does the design course have to be a senior, capstone design course?
    No. The requirement in the solicitation is that the PI is currently teaching a design course. The course can be an undergraduate, graduate, or mixed course; a single or multiple university course; or a "special topics" course focused on design.


  9. Do the students need to be US citizens?
    There are no restrictions in the solicitation about the citizenship of the students.


  10. If possible to get the answers to my previous questions before the TI meeting?
    All questions concerning this solicitation should be emailed to xhab@spacegrant.org. Process or contractual will be answered upon arrival. Technical questions will be held until the next TIM so that all potential proposers have access to the same information.

    Added 07/29/2010


  11. Given the internal drawings in the presentation, there is no accommodation in the 2010 HDU for access to an upper level. Will this be added for 2011? Will we be given basic information on location, size, etc.?
    Access to the upper level will be accommodated by a ladder as shown below. Though not used in 2010 field tests, the ladder will be mounted to the HDU for the 2011 field tests. The ladder will be centrally located, and will have a hatch cover on the second level. HDU floor plans, sections, and details will be provided to the three selected teams.
    Access Ladder


  12. It is implied in the solicitation that the pressure-tight connection to the HDU will be at the outer ring, via our provided interface.
    The pressure-tight connection to the HDU should be at the interface ring.


  13. Is the upper level floor of the HDU pressure tight?
    The upper level floor is sufficient to hold 0.125psi.


  14. Do we need to provide a pressure bladder/restraint layer for the floor of the upper level, or just walls and overhead?
    Not for the floor. Only walls and overhead should be provided. If the walls and overhead provide an airtight seal to the interface ring, the required 0.125psi should be maintainable. Since the HDU itself is not pressurized, the walls and overhead should be self-supporting whenever the hatch is open for crew translation.


  15. Since the upper level of the HDU is shown as separated concentric rings, do we need to provide a structural floor for the inflatable section?
    No structural floor is needed. The existing HDU upper deck is sufficient for a live load of 50 lb/sf.


  16. If we do provide a floor (bladder and/or structural), where will the pressure-tight connection be to the HDU interior volume?
    The HDU upper deck is air-tight from the interface ring to the central hatch frame. The hatch is also designed to withstand 0.125psi. Detailed drawings of the hatch frame will be provided to the selected teams.


  17. Is the pressure connection to the passageway part of our interface design?
    The inflatable need only provide a pressure seal at the interface ring.


  18. Will the "slight overpressure" be maintained in the HDU as well, or do you plan to depressurize the upper level to move between it and the HDU?
    The HDU will not be pressurized, so the inflatable loft needs to be self-supporting when the access hatch is open during nominal operations and evaluations/demonstrations. The inflatable loft will be packaged (not inflated) during transportation or moving between test locations.


  19. Am I correct in assuming that we provide both halves of the interface to the HDU mounting ring?
    The interface mounting ring is provided as a flat metal surface with bolt holes. The design team should provide a pressurized seal to that surface (bolt hole dimensions and other details have been included during TIM#1 and will be provided to the selected teams.


  20. Does the time and effort to install the HDU-side interface (which would be preintegrated in a flight version) count against the evaluation criteria?
    Integration time of the inflatable loft to the HDU-side interface ring will be counted. Not sure what is meant by: “HDU-side” interface. The HDU provide the interface ring to mount your proposed loft to. Please see evaluation criteria on performance—least to deploy.


  21. Does the mass of the HDU-side interface count against the 500 kg limit for the inflatable package?
    The HDU-side interface ring is already installed on the HDU, and will not count toward the 500kg limit. Any other structure that the design team provides to create the pressure seal will be counted.


  22. Will the connection between the inflatable interface and the HDU interface be done in a realistic simulation? (i.e., in pressure suits or other restrictive enclosures)
    Integration of the inflatable loft to the HDU interface ring will not be done in pressure suits, but will be completed by the design team. Selected teams will discuss the mounting process with the HDU team to insure that the right tools and aids will be available for installation. An over-head crane will be available to lift the inflatable loft into position for attachment to the HDU.


  23. Will there be a safety requirement to keep the hand rails in place while personnel are on the top level installing the inflatable?
    Handrails should be kept in place except where they interfere with the installation of the inflatable. Design teams should consider the process for installing the inflatable that takes into account the safety of the workers.


  24. Appendix B lists seven (presumably numeric) evaluation criteria for Phase 2. How are these weighted against each other?
    Weighting of individual sub-sections of the evaluation criteria will not be made public. The weighting of the major sections of the evaluation criteria will be released.


  25. For #4, three different criteria are listed. How will the criteria "transportation and handling" and "autonomous deployment" be evaluated?
    By demonstration


  26. Is it expected/desired that the unit will deploy autonomously?
    Once the inflatable loft has been mounted, the design team should consider how it shall be inflated, and whether someone needs to be there to help it along. “Autonomous deployment” will be evaluated on the degree to which the inflation / deployment process occurs without assistance.


  27. What are the ranking trades between providing better crew accommodations and installed systems, vs. lower weight and higher packing factor? (greater weight and volume = poorer evaluation on packing ratio and mass)
    That is for the proposing team to determine as part of the proposal.


  28. Should the supplied system include some level of crew accommodations? Furniture? Galley equipment? Food preparation and stowage? A waste management compartment? (with or without functional systems?)
    The inflatable loft design should include a ‘paper design’ of how the space could be utilized based on the functions outlined in the solicitation. The outfitting should be removable or re-arrangeable. No waste management or operational fluids in the loft space. (Keep it simple)


  29. Under #12 in loft requirements, do you want a physical layer with an areal density of 1.5 kg/m^3 installed in the inflatable package? For your notional shape, that would be 20% or more of the 500 kg limit by itself.
    Not necessarily, but we do desire a representative layering with non-flight materials and the analysis showing the selection of the proposed flight materials that would be used.


  30. Under #13 of loft requirements, does the R16 insulation value refer to a lunar case or Earth case?
    Earth case for analog application.

    If the latter, since MLI is ineffective for insulation in an atmosphere, would you prefer an alternative (effective) insulation material?


  31. If you really want a lunar-specific MLI, are you looking to the teams to define the type and number of layers of MLI?
    We want the analysis and proposed flight layers.


  32. Will you be evaluating for realistic installation practices so that the MLI does not wind up compressed in such a way as to create thermal leak paths?
    Yes, to the extent possible and the analyses/ design showing the solution.


  33. Can we assume the HDU will supply electrical power for inflation (assuming atmospheric blowers)? Will you be posting available power parameters (e.g., voltage, AC frequency, current limits)
    The HDU will provide power for the inflation system. Preliminary power available estimate will be 120VAC/60Hz and 15 amps. Specifications for available power limits will be provided to the selected teams. HDU team will work with teams to adjust power budget if necessary during PDR and CDR phase.


  34. Is the university allowed to charge overhead as part of the $48K award?
    The financial arrangement of the university may include charging overhead. However, universities can also waive the overhead as a contribution credit. Sponsor for supplemental funding is also encouraged.


  35. Are the design review dates definitive, or are they "not later than" dates? (e.g., please note that Oct. 30 is a Saturday.) Will some or all of the reviews be held at JSC or another site off of the university campus?
    The dates are “not later than” dates. Most reviews can be held via WebEx and telecon. However, the final head-to-head competition, which includes the installation of the inflatable loft onto the HDU, will occur at JSC, B220, June 2011.