eXploration Systems and Habitation (X-Hab) 2017 Academic Innovation Challenge

Exploration Systems and Habitation Academic Innovation Challenge Logo - 2017

The eXploration Systems and Habitation (X-Hab) 2017 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. In 2017 the X-Hab Challenge scope is being formally extended not only to include habitation topics but other areas of Exploration Systems as well. 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.

The Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Division will offer multiple awards of $10k - $20k each to design and produce studies or functional products of interest to the AES Division as proposed by university teams according to their interests and expertise. The prototypes produced by the university teams (examples of which are shown in below) may be integrated into existing NASA-built operational prototypes. Universities interested in participating will submit X-Hab proposals which will be reviewed by technical experts; subsequent down-selection will determine which projects will be funded. X-Hab university teams will be required to complete their products for evaluation by the AES Division in May 2017. Universities may collaborate together as a project team

X-Hab 2017 Academic Innovation Challenge

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 alongside NASA researchers. Teams are required to go through a series of NASA-standard assessments, including a System Definition Review (SDR), a Preliminary Design Review (PDR), and a Critical Design Review (CDR) as for other NASA engineering products. 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.


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. 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



9 Mar 2016Date of Announcement / Release of RFP
4 Apr 2016Questions for online Technical Interchange Due
11 Apr 2016

Responses for questions published online
   XHAB Questions - Revised 04/11/2016

29 April 2016Proposal Due Date
25 May 2016Award Announcements

Previous Challenges