Two teams of students from Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus were placed first in their categories in the Revolutionary Advanced Aerospace Systems – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) design competition sponsored by NASA and the National Institute for Aerospace (NIA).
Sixteen teams competed in the contest, which challenges students to solve real-life space exploration challenges. This year, the competition asked teams to develop a mission with innovative approaches and new technologies allowing astronauts to be less dependent on resources transported from Earth. This included four categories: Earth independent lunar pioneering; Mars moons prospector; and large-scale Mars entry, descent and landing (EDL).
“Some of the teams had ideas that NASA might be able to use as we venture out beyond low-Earth orbit,” said Pat Troutman, Human Exploration Strategic Analysis lead at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. “The judges and I were impressed by the students’ engineering skills and innovative thinking.”
The first placed team in the Mars EDL category was a team advised by Embry-Riddle Aerospace Engineering professor Dr. Eric Perrell, including Aerospace Engineering seniors Justin Bennett, Nolan Fletcher, Abdul Manarvi, Matt Neiding, James Rogers, Cody Shaw and Jon Willems. The team presented concepts for a pathfinder mission to demonstrate launching a spacecraft from Earth and placing a 20-metric-ton payload for producing oxygen and fuel for later human missions on the surface of Mars.
“The RASC-AL competition was an amazing opportunity for aerospace students to come together and share innovations and ideas that will someday contribute to human space exploration,” Fletcher said. “The team and I are grateful to be recognized by industry leaders and to represent our university at such a prestigious event.”