The X-Hab or "eXploration Habitat" contest will see three awards of $48,000 go to university student teams producing the best loft-like inflatable space habitats that can be attached to a hard-shell NASA structure, SPACE.com reported Tuesday.
The three top entries will go head-to-head in an Arizona desert field test, with the winner receiving an additional $10,000.
NASA has produced prototypes of inflatable habitats in the past but now wants to engage and encourage students, SPACE.com said.
"The idea is that the students will be able to learn about teamwork, systems engineering, and also learn about the future of design for habitats," NASA space architect and Habitat Demonstration Unit project manager Kris Kennedy said.
"Students will actually be able to be involved with designing and testing these projects, as we go beyond low Earth orbit," Kennedy said.
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