A team of UA undergrads has been selected as one of 16 finalists in NASA's Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) program. The teams have been selected to develop deep space mission concepts, and will showcase their completed work in a competitive design review at the 2021 RASC-AL Forum in June.
The UA team, under advisers Jekan Thanga and Erik Asphaug, titled their project Lunar Acquisition Vehicle and Analysis (LAVA) and are working with the SpaceTREx Laboratory. Team LAVA students are Andrew Bradley (instrumentation), Dashiel Pudwill (structures), Lindsey Koelbel (systems), Paxton Tomooka (computers), Matthew Gillies (propulsion), Phil Sjoquist (thermal), and Daniel Fuehrer (power and attitude determination and control).
For 20 years, the RASC-AL program has expanded professional space exploration engineering and design thinking into the university realm. Projects fall into one of five themes: Durable Low-Mass Lunar Surface Habitat; Minimum Mars Ascent Vehicle; Venus Flyby Mission; Human Mission to Ceres; and Distributed Lunar Sample Aggregation, Analysis, and Return to the International Space Station.
“The 16 finalist teams have presented some very unique solutions with the potential to improve our ability to operate in space and on distant planetary bodies,” said Patrick Troutman, human exploration strategic assessments lead at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “These students bring new concepts to the table that our leaders are eager to see further developed over the next few months.”
According to NASA, finalists receive a modest development stipend for work on their projects, which culminate in a 15-page technical paper, a 60-minute presentation and Q&A session with the judges, and a technical poster supporting their chosen RASC-AL theme and mission objectives. The top two teams receive a $6,000 stipend to participate in the 2021 ASCEND conference, scheduled for November 2021, where they will present condensed versions of their projects.