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NASA Commissions Rice University Students To Create Furniture For Space Explorations

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    Articles Articles May 15, 2015 01:52 PM EDT

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    Five senior students from Rice University’s mechanical engineering department recently revealed their furniture designs which respond to the needs of space-bound explorations, according to PSFK. Under NASA’s directives, students Laura Blumenschein, Archit Chaba, Rey Almendola, Alex Schimdt and Dan Peera developed a table and chair combo named the Lunar Lounger.

    To address the requirements of the highly-anticipated exploration to Mars, the students worked closely with the space agency. This included an interview with astronauts who have lived and worked on the International Space Station.

    In an interview with Popular Science, Blumenschein said, “We asked them about their daily tasks and a lot of their work flow was dominated by writing in their space logbooks.” Amendola added, “When we thought about what astronauts do every day and what kind of furniture they need, we narrowed down the scope of the project to chairs for sitting and tables for working, relaxing, or for meal times.”

    The furniture pieces are floor-mounted for stability especially in lower-gravity environments. At the same time, the table and chair can be adjusted according to specific human proportions. The base of the chair is made from high-grade aluminum while the cushion of seat is made of high strength foam. It has a pin-and-hole mechanism which makes it easy to recline, be seated on or act as a knee rest. The chair is connected to a floor-mounted track so the recliner is anchored in place while the seat can be moved forward or back.

    The table is also adjustable in terms of height. Schmidt said, “The kneeling chair, where you’re seated on a pad and it props you up at an angle, puts you in neutral body position.” The Lunar Lounger encourages these positions since the human body will experience lesser fatigue standing up of kneeling for long hours when subjected in an environment with partial gravity.

    The team recognizes that the design will still go through a series of revisions. However, they are also confident that the design prototype has “set a good foundation to build upon and make a design ready for astronaut use on the moon and Mars.”

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