eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge 2016

eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge Logo

The eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) 2016 Academic Innovation Challenge is a university-level challenge designed to engage and retain students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The competition is intended to link with senior- and graduate-level design curricula that emphasize hands-on design, research, development, and manufacture 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 innovative ideas and solutions that could be applied to exploration. The Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Exploration Augmentation Module (EAM) project will offer multiple X-Hab awards of $10k - $30k each to design and produce functional products of interest to the EAM project (see topic list) as proposed by university teams according to their interests and expertise. The prototypes produced by the university teams may be integrated onto existing NASA-built operational prototypes (examples shown in Figure 1). X-Hab proposals will have a proposal submittal, where down-selection will determine which projects will be funded. X-Hab university teams will complete their products for evaluation in May-June 2016 with the EAM team. Universities may collaborate together on a project team.

Vertically Oriented Habitat MockupRobotic Plant Growth SystemExpandable Habitat Demonstration

Students in the Critical Path: The 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. The student team is considered equal with all the other subsystem teams, as Principal Investigator (PI) for their particular project. They are required to go through NASA System Definition Review (SDR), Preliminary Design Review (PDR), and Critical Design Review (CDR) on a similar footing as other NASA engineered products. In doing so, the NASA team is putting a great deal of responsibility on the students, and in turn gives the students a bigger stake in the future development of space technologies that likely will become heritage to actual systems and technologies that will be flown in space in the years and decades to come.


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 (if applicable) and Fellowship Program, or other US accredited university. Multi-discipline, 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.

Proposal Information



11 Mar 2015Date of Announcement / Release of RFP
4 Apr 2015Questions for online Technical Interchange Due
11 Apr 2015

Responses for questions published online
   XHAB Questions - Revised 04/21/2015

30 April 2015Proposal Due Date
29 May 2015Award Announcements

Previous Challenges