NASA Interns Take Space Washing Machine Designs for a Spin

There is no laundry in space … yet. Astronauts may wear the same underwear for up to a week by simply bringing the equivalent of two small suitcases to the International Space Station. And these used clothes are not washed – they are launched into a ship that burns in the atmosphere.

and NASAGlenn Research Center, a summer intern at Glenn Research Center, has spun in a possible way to solve this stinking space technology problem. From June 25th to July 1st, each of the six mentor-led intern teams designed the conceptual components of the space washer. Their ideas can inform gadgets that can be tested on the space station for use in future long-term missions. The team presented the concept to NASA judges on the final day of the challenge.

JAXA Astronaut Koichi Wakata Exercise

Astronaut Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will practice on the treadmill of the space station. Astronauts don’t stain their clothes the way we do on the ground, but they still sweat and get dirty. Credit: NASA

The intern adjusted cost, space, and resource concerns and created his own acronym. Here’s what they came up with:

Stirring Roller Team-SLUSH (Screw-Free Rotating Hardware)

Sophia DeSisto, Samuel Dwyer, Gabriel Morales, and mentor Rosa Padilla have designed a spring-loaded cork bottle opener that spins and throws dirty clothes under microgravity. They won the Overall Best Design Award and the Image Award for having the most useful and impressive design visuals.

Dirty Water Removal Roller-DRUM (Drying Roller Super Convenient Machine)

Suraju Lawal, Himshikha Nath, Mariam Shah, and mentor Gordon Berger have designed rollers that use magnets and capillarity to squeeze out excess water. They won the Innovator Award for their most creativity.

Control Systems Team-Ardu Washers

Jonah Sachs-Wetstone, Letizia Moro, Joseph Shepard, and mentor Tyler Hatch created the control system using the Arduino microcontroller, the coding hardware found on some satellites. They won the Ready for Production award for their most realistic and fully designed concept.

Soaking Roller Team-GLEN (Astronaut Galaxy Laundry Equipment)

Alex Drenth, Samantha Eason, Christina Brown, mentors Claire Fortenberry and Cody Farinacci have designed a tube that drains water and a hook mechanism for soaking clothes. They won the Speaker Bureau Award for their best presentation skills.

Dirty Water Squeegee Team-WCU (Water Collection Unit)

Neoneela Boevets, Hunter Rehm, Victoria Blanc, and mentor Daniel Gotti designed a pair of rollers with bristle squeegees that use vacuum force to draw water into a triangular collection chamber. They won the Smart Shopper Award for the best use of materials.

Disinfection and deodorization team-washing machine (weightless cleaning and disinfection habitat)

Thomas Placzkowski, Sarit Dhar, Garrett Pohlman, and mentor Monica Guzik created a chamber incorporating titanium dioxide coating, UV, and ozone gas to disinfect laundry. They won the ACES Award for their best acronym.

Design cycle

The inspiration for the swirling agitation gadget struck Morales while daydreaming about the Slushie machine at his favorite childhood pizzeria. A fourth-year undergraduate student in mechanical engineering at Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico said he loves practical work.

“Experience is unmatched,” he said. “You can get a deeper sense of what it really is to work as an engineer.”

For Sarit Dhar, a sophomore medical student at the University of Toledo, the most important part of the challenge was designing the concept from scratch.

“I’m in medical school, so I can’t usually do that anymore. I can only break the sketch pad and draw something,” Dahl said.

Christina Brown, a sophomore at the University of Houston Business College, was thrilled that she had never tried a design challenge and was open to all majors.

“I started pushing a part of my mind that I had never actually used,” she said.

Collaboration with other internships was a plus for Samuel Dwyer, a fourth-year mechanical engineering undergraduate student at Youngstown State University.

“It fits perfectly with our strengths,” he said. “Each person did group work.”

Rinse and repeat

According to internship coordinator Eric Haze, this is NASA Glen’s third intern design challenge. The idea of ​​a washing machine has been extended from the previous simpler task for high school students. NASA has the potential to extend its challenge to more students in the future.

Challenge consultant and NASA fluid physics expert Nancy Hall said the intern’s ideas could serve as the basis for the design of future washing machines that could be launched into space. rice field.

“Students are very creative,” Hall said. “They aren’t looking at the limits we’re seeing.”

Hayes told participants that they were impressed with their work.

“If we take over many of NASA’s seats someday, we’ll feel better about where to land,” Hayes said.

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