Starship Ascent Module

NASA Final.342.png
Screen Shot 2022-04-27 at 8.35.42 PM.png


"Design an 8 person crew ascent module for the SpaceX Starship to lift-off from Mars and embark on an 18 hour to 1 week mission en route to Earth."

Nominal trip duration: ~18 hours
Anomalous trip duration: < 1 week 


Project Strategy

Phase 1: (Complete)

  • Identify scope of prompt / ideate

  • Experiment full scale in cardboard

  • Present initial design to NASA


Phase 2: (In Progress)

  • Develop final design with NASA feedback

  • Render entire module in CAD

  • Build full scale high fidelity final model

  • Present final design to NASA

Phase 1

Phase 1: Process


Phase 1: Refined Sketches

IMG_9608 3.jpg
IMG_9613 3.jpg
IMG_9618 2.jpg
IMG_9617 2.jpg

My area of focus within the team is construction and hand sketching. Working in tandem with the CAD team, I sketched refined concepts and designs to give the computer renders added detail and context.

Phase 1: CAD Renderings

NASA Final.292.png
NASA Final.296.png
NASA Final.308.png
NASA Final.299.png
NASA Final.339.png
NASA Final.293.png

Phase 1: NASA Presentation


Our team had a 30 minute zoom meeting with 3 specialists at NASA to have our design evaluated.

Key Feedback Received:

  • Too much unused space above seating area

  • Toilet design is excessive as it is only used in the 1 week anomalous contingency

  • Toilet design not accommodating of both sexes

  • Increase storage capacity within cabin

  • Allow for storage of different types of cargo

    • Climate controlled scientific samples

    • Clothes, food, water, etc​​​​

  • Further minimize size of module

Phase 2

Phase 2: Current Progress

With the feedback we received in mind, we've made a number of changes to the module.

Major Updates:

  • Moved storage and auxiliary systems above the seating area

  • Shortened module height

  • Added Minus 80 Degree Freezer

  • Redesigned the Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC)

IMG_9983 2_edited.jpg

Minus 80 Degree Freezer

  • I designed the freezer based on the unit installed in the International Space Station (ISS)

  • A retracting internal housing brings stored items in and out of the freezer safely and easily

  • Items are stored in cartridges which fit together in the housing


Prototype Seat

  • Blue Foam

  • Cut using a CNC machine

  • Confirmed size and fit

    • Size range spans 4'11" to 6'4"​

  • Final seats will be moulded out of carbon fiber 


Revised Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC)

  • My revised design removes the toilet all together

  • Astronauts will wear disposable Maximum Absorbency Garments (MAG) for urination and solid waste

    • Unisex MAG design meets the needs and fit for both sexes​

  • A stretchy fabric canopy will seal the hatch space from the cabin for privacy

    • Flat canopy design was chosen​

  • Hygiene Storage Box (HSB) houses all toiletries including feminine products and first aid kits

    • Many different compartments for items of all sizes, shapes​, and storage condition requirements

This project is still in progress. Updates coming.

This was a project assigned in my Junior year spring semester Industrial Design Design for Extreme Environments Special Topics class funded by NASA through the Rhode Island Space Grant and taught by Prof. Michael Lye.