Moon to Mars eXploration Systems and Habitation (M2M X-Hab) 2025 Academic Innovation Challenge

Moon to Mars Exploration & Habitat Systems Academic Innovation Challenge LogoThe Moon to Mars eXploration Systems and Habitation (M2M X-Hab) 2025 Academic Innovation Challenge is a university-level challenge designed to develop strategic partnerships and collaborations with universities. It has been organized to help bridge strategic knowledge gaps and increase knowledge in capabilities and technology risk reduction related to NASA’s vision and missions. The competition is intended to link with senior- and graduate-level design curricula that emphasize hands-on design, research, development, and manufacturing of functional prototypical subsystems that enable functionality for space habitats and deep space exploration missions. NASA will directly benefit from the challenge by sponsoring the development of innovative concepts and technologies from universities, which will result in novel ideas and solutions that could be applied to exploration.

NASA’s Exploration Capabilities (EC) Program will offer multiple awards of $13k - $50k each to design and produce studies or functional products of interest to NASA (see Section 3.2, M2M X-Hab Proposal Topic List) as proposed by university teams according to their interests and expertise. The prototypes produced by the university teams (examples of which are shown in Figure 1) may be integrated into existing NASA-built operational prototypes. Universities interested in participating will submit M2M X-Hab proposals, which will be reviewed by technical experts; subsequent down-selection will determine which projects will be funded. M2M X-Hab university teams will be required to complete their products for evaluation by NASA EC mentors in May 2025. Universities may form collaborations to perform as a single distributed project team.

X-Hab 2017 Academic Innovation Challenge

Due to organizational restructuring of NASA's Exploration Capabilities Program office, the 2025 cycle of M2M X-Hab program is a transitional program with a limited number of projects. Over the course of the next few months the program will undergo a reorganization with the goal of expanding the ways that universities can participate and expanding the number of opportunities to partner with NASA to contribute to space habitats and deep space exploration missions.

Students in the Critical Path

The M2M X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge has a unique approach to student involvement, in that the student team is placed in the NASA mission critical path for the product or technology that they develop alongside NASA researchers. Teams are required to go through a series of NASA-standard assessments as other NASA engineering products, including a System Definition Review (SDR), a Preliminary Design Review (PDR), and a Critical Design Review (CDR). With this approach, NASA is putting a great deal of responsibility on the students. This in turn gives the students a bigger stake in the development of space technologies that likely will form the basis for future systems and technologies that will be flown in space.  It is expected that students will perform the majority of the work and the Principal Investigators are there to guide and direct.


Proposals will be accepted from faculty who are U.S. citizens and currently teach an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited engineering senior or graduate design, industrial design, or architecture curriculum teaming course at a university affiliated with the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, or other US accredited university. Multidisciplinary, multi-departmental, and/or multi-institutional teaming collaborations are highly encouraged.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, and other minority-serving educational institutions are particularly encouraged to apply. Proposals from women, members of underrepresented minorities groups, and persons with disabilities are highly encouraged.

In order to fully comply with the United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Export Administration Regulations (EAR), participation in the M2M X-Hab program by citizens of controlled countries, as defined in Part 768.1.d is prohibited. This restriction applies to all faculty members, staff, students, consultants, and any other individual that participates in the M2M X-Hab program. For the current “Controlled Countries” list, reference EAR Part 768.1d

Proposal Information

Challenge Solicitation: 2025 Solicitation

Update on 03/08/204 - An additional proposal topic was added to the solicitation

Update on 03/07/2024 – the original version of the PDF version of the solicitation did not contain many of the hyperlinks to external documents that were referenced.  The current version corrects this issue.  No text of the solicitation was modified in this revision.

Important Dates:  All dates tentative until the announcement has been released

6 March 2024 Date of Announcement / Release of RFP
3 April 2024 Questions for online Technical Interchange Due
12 April 2024 Responses for questions published online
XHAB Questions - Updated 03/20/2024
26 April 2024 Proposal Due Date
07 June 2024 Award Announcements - Last Year's Award Announcements

Proposal Topic List:

  • Autonomous Robotic Assembly and Construction of Artemis Base Camp 2040. What would that look like?
  • Crew Mobility Modalities Inside Moon/Mars Habitats
  • Rack and Stack: Design of Payload Racks to Support Future Habitation Platforms and Exploration Missions