NASA Challenge 2013

Selected challenge: Deployable Greenhouse - Develop a deployable greenhouse that could be used on a space mission to the Moon or Mars.

Team: Captain Cook, eight students from the Bachelor of Creative Technologies. Mentored by lecturers including Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath, Gerbrand van Melle, and Stefan Marks.

The team designed a greenhouse that is an upright cylinder made of layered thermal insulation, Nextel, Open Cell foam and kevlar. The interior is pressured with Combitherm, including a folded membrane that allows the module to extend vertically. Nomex cloth is used within the interior for fireproofing where light transmission is not required. Plates holding seed material are held on vertical rails around the edge of the lower part of the cylinder and raise up when the greenhouse is deployed. This provides the space lower down for the astronauts to work in the greenhouse during the day. External hatches allow the greenhouse to link to astronaut's living quarters with a pressurised corridor, and flexible external 'bladders' are deployed on landing to store water and seed supplies.

NASA Challenge 2013 NASA Challenge 2013 NASA Challenge 2013 NASA Challenge 2013
Students at work at the BCT Studio facilities

The 3m high module extends to a height of around 5m, with a diameter of 3m. It connects to habitation modules and external power source. Crowd sourcing for extra ideas, and 3D printing to create spare parts or even structures in space. Further modules could be added. The team raised the possibility of deployable greenhouse supplying produce back to markets on Earth.
For night-time and extreme weather events, the plates holding seeds and roof would lower to protect plants from radiation and retain heat.
"We wanted to give astronauts the experience of gardening in space," said the team. (Abstract by Aimee Wilkins, revised by Jacques Foottit and very slightly by me)

Presentation video
Presentation video on YouTube, 8'01

Daniel Cermak-Sassenrath. NASA Challenge 2013. Mentor, Auckland, NZ, April 20-1, 2013.