Small Spaces, Big Ideas!

    The Challenge

    Create crew-friendly designs for a habitat and/or its multi-use furniture, to be used for isolation studies on Earth that are researching the environmental and human dimensions of life on another planet.


    The Space Apps opening sessions at the Mainstages featured a special Space Apps video greeting from the HI-SEAS V crew in their Mars habitat.  Check out: "Behind The Scenes at the HI-SEAS Mars Habitat:"


    HI-SEAS (Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) is a NASA-sponsored research program that is studying crew cohesion and selection for long-duration space missions. A crew of six lives in a habitat (the “hab”) that is a 1200 square-foot dome situated in a lava field on a site that is visually and geologically similar to Mars. 

    This small 1200 square-foot space has to serve many roles:  

    • A laboratory room for crewmates to conduct personal research, providing isolation between lab materials (e.g. microbes) and regular crew activity
    • A clinical station to collect data on each of the crewmates
    • Personal rooms for sleeping
    • Bathrooms
    • A kitchen for cooking meals
    • A common area for eating, exercising, and socializing!

    Your challenge is to design a layout for the hab that would accommodate all the activities that take place inside it.  You may also, or instead design an energy- or space-saving piece of furniture or appliance to be used in the hab. 

    Think of the usability of your designs on Earth!  Can they be applied to develop sustainable settlements in cities or villages?

    This challenge addresses the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to engage all countries and all stakeholders in a collaborative partnership.  The SDGs aim to build a better future for all people by achieving sustainable development in three dimensions – economic, social, and environmental – in the spirit of strengthened global solidarity:

    • Goal 11.1: By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums.
    • Goal 11.3: By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries.


    When designing the hab layout:

    • Consider the internal dimensions of the habitat and constraints on the space use.  For example, there need to be 6 bedrooms, a shower, a kitchen, and a common area for research and social activities.
    • Consider the human dimensions of the space.  Crew relations are a very important aspect of life in the hab, and crewmates put effort into maintaining good relationships with each other.  How would your layout help foster friendship, good communication, cooperation, and fun in the hab?

    When designing a piece of furniture or appliance:

    • Consider the needs for items to be space-efficient, lightweight-but-sturdy, energy-saving, and multi-purpose. For example, you could design a desk that can be used as exercise equipment!
    • Consider ideas to support crew cohesion.  As with the hab layout, design items that help foster friendship, good communication, cooperation, and fun!
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    SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.