XHAB Questions - 2016


Updated 04/21/2015

General Questions

Q: What is the Foundation's F&S policy?

A: The XHAB program is a student driven program in which the participants are receiving class credit toward their degree. Therefore, for indirect costs purposes, the XHAB program is considered an educational based program and not a research based program. Although not required, universities are highly encouraged to waive or significantly reduce the overhead that they charge the on the proposed effort to maximize the educational impact of the proposed budget. Fully waived or partially reduced overhead may be used a cost sharing on the proposed effort. Budget allocation will be considered during the evaluation process.


Q: Is it an appropriate use of NASA funding to support a postdoctoral fellow to assist in team oversight?

A: It is the responsibility of the PI to develop and propose a budget that will provide adequate resources to conduct the proposed work. These resources may include but not necessarily be limited to direct labor, subcontracts, consultants, equipment, supplies, travel, indirect costs and other items. Part of the review process will be the evaluation of how the proposed budget provides adequate resources for the proposed work as well as the alignment of the budget with the overall objectives of the program.


Q: What are the content and format requirements for the following two appendages within the proposal? - Mandatory -- a signed confirmation of support of the proposal must include a signed commitment from the University faculty, collaborators, and their potential sponsor(s) to ensure their commitment to the project. - Mandatory -- a signed confirmation from the university stating that the X-Hab 2016 Academic Innovation Challenge will be implemented during the 2015-2016 academic year.

A: There are no specific content or format requirements beyond what is outlined in the solicitation.


Q: How can you tell if travel is required for your project proposal?

A: One of the goals for x-Hab is for the university teams to work with a NASA mentoring team. To accomplish that, the teams work together during a series of review milestones and during that process, it can be beneficial for someone from the NASA team to visit the university if NASA travel funds are available. Additionally, the university can propose using a portion of their overall project budget to visit a relevant NASA center to perform a demonstration, to conduct the final review, and/or to meet some of their advisors.


Q: Must the project be completed by in a senior design class or a graduate design class? Are other design classes, such as those that engage students from multiple undergraduate levels (e.g. sophomore, junior, and senior), eligible to submit a proposal?

A: The proposal must be led by a faculty member who is an U.S. citizen and is currently teaching in an ABET accredited engineering program. The majority of the students involved in the team must be upper division undergraduates or graduate students enrolled in and receiving credit in the design course taught by the faculty lead. Multi-discipline, multi-departmental, and/or multi-institutional teaming collaborations are highly encouraged.


Q: Must the design courses be a required capstone design course in an ABET accredited program, or are technical elective design courses also eligible (assuming they are being offered through an ABET accredited degree program).

A: The design course does not necessarily have to be a capstone design course.


Q: What is the intended interfacing module for the X-­Hab Challenge?

A: There is no plan to integrate modules as part of the X-Hab challenge this year. Each project is considered stand-alone. However, if a NASA advisor recommend or requests integration or demonstration with a NASA testbed, that is an option but not a requirement.


Q: When will further technical details regarding the interface be released? A: Not applicable Q: Is there information regarding the interface available online?

A: Not applicable


Q: Will the X-­Hab Challenge exclusively consider proposals for the Exploration Augmentation Module, or will proposals focused on the Habitat Demonstration Unit/Deep Space Habitat also be considered?

A: The EAM is a concept and not an actual hardware item. The HDU-DSH is no longer a part of the X-Hab Challenge. The HDU has now been renamed the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) and is managed under the HERO program. See NASA NSPIRES for solicitations on that end item. http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/humanresearch/research_info/overview/SMO... http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/humanresearch/analogs/hera.html


Q: Is the Exploration Augmentation Module exclusively a zero-­gravity orbital transit vehicle, or is there a surface operations component?

A: The EAM team is primarily evaluating transit mission architectures and not surface missions. But operations for both environments need to be evaluated and whether or not a proposal delves into one of both is at the discretion of the proposers.


Q: Will proposals focused on planetary or lunar surface operations be considered?

A: Yes. The focus of the EAM team is on transit mission capabilities, but NASA is also evaluating a limited set of crew surface operations for the Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission. And Lunar and Mars Surface capabilities can be valuable to both government and commercial space exploration architectures.


Q: When submitting a proposal, is it required to select a single specific project topic from the list in Section 3.2 or Appendix B of the Solicitation document?

A: It is not necessary to be limited to those topics, but those topics were recommended by the funding projects. However, the evaluators for this challenge will consider projects not on the list if they are strong proposals that solve compelling problems.


Q: What is the preferred format for proposals which may meet the objectives of two or more project topics from that list?

A: Each proposal should be separate and can mention potential synergies with other stand-alone projects. Tying two or more projects into one proposal is not recommended because non-selection for a component of a joint proposal could imperil the potential selection of another component.


Q: Who are the primary contacts at NASA for details regarding X-­Hab? Please submit all questions concerning the solicitation to xhab@spacegrant.org. Answers to submitted questions will be published on the program website.

A: Please work through the National Space Grant Foundation for question surrounding X-Hab. If potential advisors are sought for your proposal effort, please contact your state based Space Grant office or a NASA center University Affairs Officer.


Q: What is the protocol to contact NASA experts in fields of interest to answer questions we may have, as we complete the proposal, and if selected, work on the final project?

A: Please refer to the previous FAQ for pre-proposal questions. The NASA X-Hab team will have mentors provided for each selected project in addition to any advisors the proposing team cultivates during the proposal development process


Q: Is it possible to use NASA facilities for specific tests if we are unable to hold them at the proposing university?

A: This is a question that can be addressed during the scoping of a project within the System Definition Review milestone. The ideal goal would be to design a project scope that is within reach of the university team with local capabilities for cost purposes. Typically, final projects can be demonstrated at a NASA center if a team reserves travel budget for a visit to a relevant NASA center for that demonstration, or the team may hold their final project review/demonstration at their campus with participation from NASA both virtually and on site. But the parameters of access to NASA sites and facilities would have to be negotiated during the project execution.


Q: How many projects in each area does NASA intend to fund?

A: Based upon internal NASA factors, and the quality, alignment and number of proposals received, NASA is prepared to fund one or more projects in each of the 7 major project areas.


Q: Should the proposed budget include travel costs for making a prototype presentation at the appropriate NASA center?

A: Yes, selected teams are responsible for all costs associated with their duties as outlined in the solicitation.


Q: Will faculty from non-ABET departments at ABET accredited institutions be considered for this project?

A: Proposals will be accepted only from faculty members who currently teach an ABET accredited design course. There are no restrictions in the solicitation that would prohibit faculty members who are not currently teaching an ABET accredited design course from partnering on a proposed effort.


Q: Can arrangements be made to include a “sponsoring” ABET accredited department along with the proposal (e.g., by cross-listing the associated course; supervision by faculty from an accredited department, etc.)?

A: Collaborative teams must be led by a faculty member who currently teaches an ABET accredited design course. The students enrolled in this design course must be active participants in the effort. The team can be comprised of students and or faculty members from multiple courses, multiple departments, and or multiple institutions, which may or may not all be ABET accredited. The entire team must use a systems engineering approach.


Q: Are multi-disciplinary proposals considered or scored any differently from proposals that originate directly from ABET accredited institutions?

A: All proposals must be led by a faculty member who currently teaches an ABET design course. Multi-disciplinary, multi-departmental and/or multi-institutional teaming collaborations are highly encouraged. They will be scored the same as single disciplinary, single institutional proposals.


Q: If we have had or currently hold a contact with the X-Hab program does it in any way impact our eligibility for this cycle?

A: There are no exclusions for being involved in X-Hab in the past or at present.


Q: I am an international student and would like to participate in the program. My university is not forming a team. Can I join another university team?

A: XHab teams may be comprised of students from multiple universities and there are no restrictions on the citizenship of the student participants. The proposal must be lead by a faculty member who is a U.S. citizen and is currently teaching an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited engineering senior or graduate design, industrial design, or architecture curriculum teaming course. The majority of the students involved in the team must be enrolled and receiving credit in the design course taught by the faculty lead.


Q: If we previously worked on a X-Hab project, may we propose to the same project again where we would further the prototype development?

A: Project concepts in the solicitation may appear similar from year to year and be focused on a similar interest. However, the capabilities and creativity that each proposer brings to the advancing the concept makes the projects unique and that includes leveraging capabilities from previous investments via X-Hab or other endeavors.


Q: How do we submit a notice of intent?

A: Notices of intent should be emailed to xhab@spacegrant.org.  Notices of intent are not binding or required to submit a proposal.


Q: What should the letter of intent contain?

A: Letters of intent are a mechanism for NASA to have an understanding of what types of proposals are in the works. They are encouraged but non-binding and not required. Letters of intent should be no more than one page and should contain full contact information for the principal investigator, the XHab topic(s) that are being addressed, the potential title of the proposed effort, and a short description of the potential proposed work. The letter of intent will not be included in the evaluation process of submitted proposals.


Q: The list of milestones contains sevearl (if applicable) items. How should these be addressed in the proposal?

A: These notional milestones could be applicable if the project team is working directly with a NASA point of contact as an advisor on their proposal development. That advisor may have insight that recommends that the proposed work may integrate into an existing NASA testbed, and thus the proposal could be structured in a way to accommodate that. Previous X-Hab activities have been structured that way, but those milestones are labeled “if applicable” because they are optional depending on the proposal. Most X-Hab projects conclude at the end of the spring semester.


Food Production

Q: What is the material/container that produce is stored in on space voyages?

A: For future space missions, there are no current requirements or definitions for the materials for food storage.   Though there are current requirements for food preparation and storage for the International Space Station that can be shared as background during project execution, the intent of this project is to leave the options open to the creativity of the proposing team.