Rice University students, in collaboration with NASA, have designed prototypes of a simple and flexible set of furniture for future space habitats.  Standing from left: Laura Blumenschein, Alex Schmidt, Archit Chaba and Rey Amendola. Seated, Daniel Peera.  Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Rice University students, in collaboration with NASA, have designed prototypes of a simple and flexible set of furniture for future space habitats.
Standing from left: Laura Blumenschein, Alex Schmidt, Archit Chaba and Rey Amendola. Seated, Daniel Peera.
Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Attention IKEA!

A team of Rice University students have designed a prototype chair and table – but not your ordinary home furniture.

These items have been fabricated to give maximum flexibility to astronauts in space or for habitats in places other than Earth.

The furniture could serve many functions in environments where maximum flexibility with a minimum of fuss is a plus, explains a Rice University press statement.

Team member Laura Blumenschein adds: “You’re going to have very limited space, so you can’t just send any furniture up…and then you’ve got the partial gravity.”

For the Moon, that’s roughly one-sixth of Earth’s gravity; one-third on Mars. The Rice team had to take into account off-Earth gravity conditions while balancing weight and strength requirements.

Maximum adjustability

The chair and table pack flat for shipping into space and are designed for maximum adjustability.

For example, the table sits on gas springs for easy height adjustment, and connection ports allow it to be paired with other tables.

According to the team, both the chair and table are meant to be floor-mounted to keep them stable in low gravity and the chair has pin-and-hole mechanisms to adjust it for use as a traditional seat or a back chair with a knee rest. Restraining footrests allow for use in zero-gravity environments.

The Rice design group received extensive help from NASA representatives, including Nancy Currie, an astronaut and engineer with four space shuttle missions to her credit.

NASA and ConocoPhillips sponsored the project.

Watch a video about the project at:

http://youtu.be/cTT3n8N-jPQ

 

 

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