PROPOSALS DUE:October 20, 2000
May 1, 2001
HEDS-UP FORUM:May 3-5, 2001


HEDS is pursuing planning objectives in Lunar, Asteroid and Martian exploration. Active interaction is underway with the Space Science Mars Surveyor Program, which is sending robotic spacecraft to Mars at every opportunity. Design problems are encouraged that deal with human exploration of these locations and the preparatory steps needed to get there. For information about the broad range of possible topics, see Scope of the HEDS-UP program.

In the 2000-2001 school year, this opportunity is open for up to 20 undergraduate and graduate university design teams, which will be selected on the basis of brief proposals. These teams will be provided assistance, if desired, in developing their specific study topic, access to information and mentorship from space professionals, and the opportunity to present their results to the NASA team which is currently designing the Mars exploration program. Awards will be made to the teams judged most outstanding by a team of NASA and industry experts attending presentations at the HEDS-UP Forum.

We invite you to participate in this program and help NASA plan for Mars Exploration.

  • Sample Proposal (pdf format):  This is an example only and is not meant to provide a standardized format. It contains all of the information that is useful to us in evaluating proposals and selecting participants.


The HEDS-University Partners (HEDS-UP) Program is intended to broaden and strengthen the professional relationships between scientists, engineers and administrators in NASA and their counterparts in the academic community. For NASA, the goals of the Design Program are to bring fresh views on how to accomplish human exploration objectives, knowledge of technical capabilities that exist in the universities, and an opportunity to meet students who are about to enter the workforce.

The HEDS-UP Design Program provides an opportunity to engage students in a rich and meaningful educational experience, derived from working on design problems of current interest, on important technical and programmatic issues that are central to the Human Exploration and Development of Space. NASA is now developing programs which will shape national decisions to send humans again beyond Low Earth Orbit. Key decisions will be made in the next 5-10 years, and studies now can affect those decisions. Students now in university design programs will be the professionals who will implement the decisions.

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Student teams may propose a wide variety of topics to the 2000-2001 HEDS-UP design program. These topics may include considerations of overall program architecture, specific systems required for transportation, space facilities, or planetary surface facilities, or more detailed consideration of subsystems such as power, habitation, life support, and others. Studies may also address issues of operations in space and on planetary surfaces, such as the conduct of field geology, remote exploration from a planetary base, or problems of human performance and health.

HEDS-UP will partner the selected university design teams with engineers, scientists, and administrators, working with the Exploration Program Office at the NASA Johnson Space Center or with professionals working at other NASA Centers, as fits the topic chosen for the design problem. In the process of working together, HEDS-UP will support each team by: (a) helping to refine the problem statement, in order to maximize the study's contribution to ongoing NASA studies; (b) providing access to data bases and links to aerospace professionals who can serve as advisors or mentors in the design study process; and (c) providing travel reimbursement for two student members and the faculty advisor to attend the HEDS-UP Exploration Forum, to be held May 3-5, 2001, at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. At this conference, the university studies will be presented to a NASA-Industry audience, who in turn will contribute current perspectives on Mars exploration topics.

The HEDS-UP design project will provide students with a unique opportunity to work on challenging and relevant NASA projects, initiate new engineering design directions, and interact with key NASA and industry personnel. There are real opportunities to see the results of these design studies applied to actual missions that will be undertaken in the next phase of human exploration beyond the International Space Station.

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HEDS-UP will select up to 20 university design projects for participation in the 2000-2001 HEDS-UP Design Project. These university teams will be offered assistance in optimizing their selection of a specific problem, access to information and mentoring, and an opportunity to present their results to a professional audience.

To be eligible for participation, the design team must consist of three or more graduate or undergraduate students, with a faculty advisor. A student team leader must be designated. Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.

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A brief proposal to participate is required by October 20, 2000. Selection will be made by a review panel consisting of NASA, university and industry representatives. The key elements of the proposal which will be considered are:

  1. (50%) Commitment of the team and faculty member. This should be documented by a description of the university environment in which the design is undertaken (e.g., a for-credit course or independent study project), the number and type of student involvement, and the designation and commitment of the faculty advisor. Documentation of the university commitment to support the project is requested.

  2. (25%) Selection of the design problem. A short statement of the rationale for selecting the design problem. If a specific design problem has not been selected (for example, some universities may prefer to conduct an internal competition to select the project), describe the range of problems to be considered and the means of deciding on the design project to be considered in the HEDS-UP competition. This should include both the technical rationale for the problem selection, as well as a statement of how the problem fits into the educational goals of the student team. Teams are encouraged to contact HEDS-UP management for guidance and assistance in the selection and definition of "user requirements," before proposals are submitted.

  3. (15%) Commitment to an outreach component. HEDS-UP considers it important that the experience of the design project be shared with others. Therefore, each proposal should include a plan for transferring the experience and knowledge gained by the students and their support team to other audiences, including faculty, other students or the public.

  4. (10%) Commitment to send two students and one faculty member to the HEDS-UP Exploration Forum. HEDS-UP will provide travel reimbursement for this purpose. In addition, a final report will be required, which consists of both a technical presentation (the report given at the conference) as well as a report on the outreach component of the project. This report will be due at the time of the Forum.

  5. Commitment to communicating through a team or university web site. Each university is expected to establish a web site that is accessible to other university participants in the program. A minimum set of data will be contained on the home page, but the team or university may otherwise use the page for communication as they choose."

Selected participants will be notified on November 10, 2000.

Student design projects will be judged by a team of experts from NASA and industry on the basis of both written reports and oral presentations at the HEDS-UP Forum. The judging criteria are shown in the link will be similar to those used in the 1999-2000 competition. A separate award will be made to the team which demonstrates the most diversity of participation, based on the range of the student's major fields of study.

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The HEDS-UP Forum is an annual opportunity for student design teams to present the results of their studies to representatives from NASA, industry and one another. The organization of the Forum is a combination of student team presentations (about 40 minutes each) interspersed with technical presentations from NASA, industry or university experts. The Forum is held at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. This year it will be held from Thursday, May 3 (8:30 AM) to Saturday, May 5 (noon), 2001. HEDS-UP will provide travel reimbursement for two students and one faculty member from each of the participating universities to attend the Forum.

Competition winners at the Forum. However, to do this, we have to make a firm deadline for submission of the electronic version of the team final reports, no later than the close of business on May 1. This will allow judges one day for evaluation of written reports prior to the Forum. Judges will then meet on the morning of May 5 to consider their final results, and the results will be announced at the close of the Forum. This will be a major undertaking for the judges, but will lead to a more interesting conclusion to the Forum. The deadline for report submission is firm and reports submitted later than the deadline will be severely penalized.

A report of the HEDS-UP Forum will be published by the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Paperback copies of this report will be distributed to each participating university. Web-based versions of the Mars Forum '00 Summary and the Mars Forum '00 University Reports are available through this site.

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Each team is expected to create its own Internet Web Site, providing the address to the other teams. Teams or universities should do this early in the program year (by early January, 2001, if possible) and provide the LPI with the address of the team site. We will add an integrated list of team home page addresses to this home page, and teams that wish to look in on the others will be free to do so.

In setting up this coordination mechanism, it would be useful to use the following standard format at the start of the team or university home page:

Of course, each team may put on its home page any other information they believe will be useful or interesting to the other universities.

The LPI will also create a list server through which any of the universities can communicate with all participating universities.

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Additional information about the 2000-2001 HEDS-UP Design Project can be obtained from:

Dr. Kathleen Johnson
Program Director
3600 Bay Area Blvd.
Houston, TX 77058
Telephone: (281) 244-2014
Email: johnson@lpi.usra.edu

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