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Prompt

Starship Ascent Module

 

"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 to rendezvous with a return spacecraft en route to Earth."

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

Team

Cade S. - Overall Design, CAD, Construction
Mason M. - Overall Design, CAD, Construction
Dylan F. - Overall Design, Hand Drawing, Construction
Felix A. - Machine aided Construction, Research
Jack Y. - Computer Rendering, Part Design
Phil Z. - Presentation, Illustrator 
Yechen Z. - Part Design

Project Strategy

Phase 1: (Complete)

  • Identify scope of prompt / ideate

  • Experiment full scale in cardboard

  • Present initial design to NASA

 

Phase 2: (Complete)

  • 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

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Phase 1: Refined Sketches

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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

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Phase 1: NASA Presentation

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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: 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)

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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
     

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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 

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Revised Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC)

Phase 2: Build

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Phase 2: Final NASA Powerpoint

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Powerpoint Preview (download for complete file)

Phase 2: Final NASA Presentation

Specialists at NASA, including a RISD ID alum who also attended this class called in from Houston. Dr. Robert Howard (laying in our module) is the Habitability Domain Lead in the Habitability and Human Factors Branch and the Co-Lead of the Center for Design and Space Architecture at Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. He generously flew in from Houston to attend our critique in-person. 

This critique lasted 1 hour and our refreshed design proved to be a major improvement over our initial design presented at our first critique. 

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Our professor, Michael sitting on the module and me standing on top.

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Mission Complete

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.