ID is Out of This World

Art Institute of Seattle Students Support Historic NASA Mission

Apr 21 2016 - 4:13pm

Industrial design students from The Art Institute of Seattle will be participating in the Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Competition (Micro-g NExT) on April 25, 2016 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. They will be developing tools intended to solve challenges related to deep space exploration as part of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission. This will be NASA’s first-ever, robotic mission to visit a large, near-Earth asteroid; collect a multi-ton boulder from its surface; and use it in an enhanced gravity tractor demonstration.

"My ultimate goal as a designer is to affect as many lives and I can in a positive way, through the things that I design," says Blake Maurer. "This project has been a great step toward pushing my boundaries of understanding how a human would function in a zero-G environment."

“I feel design should implement purposeful tactics and usability of another dimension," says Adrian Galvan.

Maddy Balmer says her ultimate goal in design is to create products that benefit users while they explore the outdoors. "I want to bring comfort to even the harshest environments so designing for NASA and space, one of the harshest environments we've explored, has tested my design abilities and stretched what I thought I was capable of, into something much greater."

Their faculty advisor Zanetka Gawronski is impressed. "The whole project has been student-driven and exemplifies the design ingenuity and initiative needed in today’s world!”

The spacecraft will redirect the multi-ton boulder into a stable orbit around the moon, where astronauts will explore and return with samples in the mid-2020s. The student-designed tools will be used for training as NASA prepares for the mission. The Micro-g NExT competition also draws from Ivy League schools such as Columbia and Cornell universities; however, only The Art Institute of Seattle will have industrial design students participating.

Photo Credit: John T. Smith