NASA wishes to promote student design projects that advance the understanding of opportunities or problems associated with the human exploration and development of space. Student design projects will be undertaken by the universities as part of their standard curriculum, with topics as determined by faculty or students, as may be the approach taken in the particular university. HEDS-UP will promote NASA and aerospace industry interest in the design study by: (a) on request, providing a range of problems which may be suitable for design analysis; (b) identifying or securing NASA or industry mentors willing to participate in the students definition of the problem; (c) providing reference services to information and people who may provide detailed information of use to the study; and (d) reviewing completed studies. HEDS-UP conducts an annual conference, the HEDS-UP forum, at which university teams may present the results of their sstudies to NASA personnel, industsry representatives, and each other. HEDS-UP provides support for 2 students and one faculty member to travel to and participate in the Forum.
NASA has a variety of experimental facilities (also called test beds) which may be available from time to time for university experiments. An example is the NASA Reduced Gravity Flight Opportunities Program which has successfully utilized NASA's KC-135 Zero-gravity aircraft to fly university experiments, sponsored by the National Space Grant Consortium Office in NASA Headquarters. This program has been expanded in the past year and provides opportunities for nearly 100 teams of students to participate.
In the NASA Means Business program, university teams are invited to contribute ideas and plans in areas of commercial and "customer engagement" aspects of human exploration. In 1999, students examined business plans for space exploration, defining mechanisms for profitable enterprises, outreach and education programs. These are areas in which universities have considerable capabilities and can make important contributions to NASA programs.
From time to time, HEDS-UP will announce special projects for university participation. In 1998-1999, one special project dealt with the simulation of field geology investigations on Mars. One team took on this project and presented their results at the HEDS-UP Forum.
In the fall of 1999, the special topic of "A Hotel on the Moon" will be announced. This project solicits up to eight proposals for design projects associated with the building of a hotel on the Moon. These teams would be invited to present their results at Space 2000, a conference sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers, in Albuqueque, New Mexico, February 28 - March 2, 2000. HEDS-UP will support one student and one faculty member to travel to and participate in the Space 2000 conference.