A design proposal for an advanced multi-use platform in cislunar space that originated in a senior capstone aerospace design lab took home the “Best in Theme” Award at the 2023 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Competition, one of NASA’s longest-running higher education competitions.
This year’s RASC-AL competition challenged the 15 finalist university teams to develop new concepts to improve the space agency’s ability to operate on the moon, Mars and beyond. Finalist teams responded to one of four themes ranging from supporting lunar operations and tourism at the South and North poles, to enabling long-term survival on the Martian surface.
The Cal Poly Pomona team’s entry, SciNAP (Science and Network Access Platform), swept the field in the theme category “Multi-Use Platform at L-1.”
SciNAP sought to address the growing need for services and logistics in cislunar space, the expanse between the Earth to the region around the surface of the Moon. It would operate as an advanced relay station to support persistent in-space communications and Decadal Science missions, focused on two critical services: communication relay and scientific data collection.
The design was developed throughout fall 2022 and spring 2023 in the Space Vehicle Design Labs (ARO 4811L and 4821L) by spring 2023 graduates Rumit Vekariya, Alex Avakian, Nathan Morris, Ryan Orr, Gregory Zin, Steve Sotelo and Ernesto Montes, and junior James Wetherbee.
The multi-use platform at Earth-Moon First Lagrange point — a point between Earth and the moon in space — would play a vital role in supporting various space operations and addressing the increasing demand for services and logistics in cislunar space, said faculty advisor Navid Nahkjiri, associate professor of aerospace engineering.
“It serves as a hub for scientific research and communication relay, contributing to the expansion of lunar operations,” he said. “By addressing the evolving needs of space exploration and leveraging lessons learned from successful missions, a versatile and robust spacecraft design has been developed. The platform acts as a steppingstone for future space endeavors, enabling NASA and its partners to extend humanity’s presence deeper into the solar system and explore new frontiers.”
Get an in-depth look at Cal Poly Pomona team’s award-winning SciNAP design project and the view the group’s RASC-AL Forum presentation at https://rascal.nianet.org/2023-teams.