NASA has selected fifteen undergraduate and graduate finalist teams to advance to the next phase of the agency’s Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition and present their concepts to NASA and aerospace industry leaders at a forum in June. Among the 15 university finalist teams are two from Virginia Tech.

Selected teams receive a $6,000 stipend to develop their proposals to effectively meet the mission: establish innovative concepts that allow the expansion of human space exploration to include short-term stays and scientific operations at planetary bodies. Projects are incorporated into the teams’ coursework and fall into one of four themes: portable utility pallet, universal sample containment system, Mars water-based in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) architecture, or suitport logistics carrier (SPLC). 

As NASA looks toward the future of space exploration to the Moon through Artemis and beyond to Mars, these student-developed technologies could help advance deep space missions.

Both teams from Virginia Tech are advised by Dr. Kevin Shinpaugh, collegiate professor in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering

Project Title: Mission Khione: Martian Autonomous Propellant Harvesting Station
Mars Water-based ISRU Architecture Theme

Project Title: Project Raikou
Portable Utility Pallet Theme

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, RASC-AL has a long history of encouraging students who move the needle on concept development and trade space analysis and bring fresh ideas compatible with NASA’s space exploration program. 

A steering committee of NASA personnel and industry experts from Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Cislunar Space Development Company, Northrop Grumman, Reliable Robotics, and SpaceWorks, selected the finalists based on a review of competitive proposals. Selected projects demonstrate originality and creativity in the areas of engineering and analysis, show feasibility and technical merit, include synergistic applications with NASA’s planned current investments, and align with one of the competition themes.