Single Person Spacecraft (SPS) mock up. Credit: Genesis Engineering

Single Person Spacecraft (SPS) mock up.
Credit: Genesis Engineering

In space history, only a handful of Russian and American travelers have experienced single-person orbital flight.

That “you’re on your own” encapsulated feeling is palpable as you face your instrument panel.

A three month competition has led to some creative interiors for a single-person spacecraft. Genesis Engineering Solutions (GES) in Lanham, Maryland sponsored the contest as a way to integrate student creativity into the development of their Single-Person Spacecraft (SPS).

Shirtsleeve operations

According to GES, the SPS includes an inner pressure vessel for shirtsleeve (normal clothing) operations and an outer unpressurized cylinder for micrometeoroid/orbital debris and impact protection.

Subsystems are packaged in the space between and in the overhead crown leaving the interior open for control, displays and other outfitting.

An SPS astronaut will have rapid access to the work site to repair the aging International Space Station…or to an asteroid for sample collection, for example.

WHISPS Team proposal, spotlighting usability testing using full scale mock up. Credit: FIT

WHISPS Team proposal, spotlighting usability testing using full scale mock up.
Credit: FIT

Creature and stay-alive comforts

The contest involved students from engineering, industrial design, human factors, and space architecture.

They were encouraged to develop creative internal designs using only existing technologies. Furthermore, they had to provide controls for flying the SPS and operating robotic arms all while floating in zero-gravity.

The interior had to include displays and controls, warning lights and alarms, pilot restraints, creature comforts, and other accoutrements one might find in an automobile here on Earth.

Design prizes

Two prizes were awarded: a $2,500 Grand Prize and one $1,500 Superior Design Prize.

  • The Grand Prize was awarded to The WHISPS Team from Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) whose submission addressed the challenges of working in the extreme environment of space and balanced new unproven technology in space like touch pads with old-school analog knobs. The WHISPS Team, including Ondrej Doule, Joseph Torkaman, De Vere – Michael Kiss, Kareim Elbaz, and Azeez Batcha from the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) School of Human-Centered Design, Innovation, and Art.
  • The Superior Design prize was awarded to Brett Montoya and Canaan Martin from the University of Houston (UH). Their entry paid careful attention to ensuring a common viewpoint across the anthropometric scale and augmented control using a clear canopy.
University of Houston Team proposal. Credit: Brett Montoya/Canaan Martin

University of Houston Team proposal.
Credit: Brett Montoya/Canaan Martin

“We didn’t know what to expect and now we have an excess of great ideas to choose from,” said Robert Rashford, GES President & CEO in a press statement.

The winners of the SPS internal design competition were selected by a panel of experienced space experts. In addition to GES personnel, jurors included a former NASA Astronaut, NASA human factors engineers, and specialists in robotics.

Genesis Engineering Solutions has supported NASA projects since 1993, including the Hubble Servicing Missions and the James Webb Space Telescope.

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