UW wins NASA’s 2011 X-Hab competition

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In June 2010, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) invited university teams to submit concepts for inflatable space lofts to its eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) 2011 competition. The 14-member winning team from the University of Wisconsin deployed the entry at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where the judges tagged the Badger X-Loft as “ready for field use because it had little leakage in the inflatable systems.” The loft will now go to NASA’s Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) field test in Arizona as part of a simulated space mission to an asteroid.

MarChem CFI, New Haven, Mo., donated the Odyssey IV fabric to the University of Wisconsin project. The flame-retardant fabric meets MVSS-302, CPAI-84m and NFPA 701 specifications, and provides a lightweight, water-resistant and dimensionally stable fabric for applications requiring flame resistance.

Aaron Olson, who designed the shell of the Badger X-Loft, says “To be able to design a safe and functional shell, [we] had to do a lot of learning about textiles and inflatable beams as well as existing inflatable habitat designs for space.” The inflatable arms of the Badger X-Loft provide a dome structure surrounding an octagonal base that can move up or down. The loft will be appended to a Habitat Demonstration Unit, home for a crew of four people during the field test in September.

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