A students team from the Department of Aerospace Engineering won the Best in Theme Award for moon exploration system design at Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts - Academic Linkage (RASC-AL), an aerospace mission system design competition organized by NASA in the USA.
The KAIST team, consisting of Jaeyoul Ko, Jongeun Suh, Juseong Lee, Sukmin Choi, and Eunkwang Lee, and supervised by Professor Jaemyung Ahn, competed as a joint team with Texas Tech University and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia,
The joint team was selected as one of the 14 finalists after two preliminary rounds. The finals of RASC-AL Forum took place from May 30 to June 3 in Florida. The team received the top prize with their design entitled ‘Earth to Lunar Interchangeable Transportation Environment (ELITE) for Logistics Delivery Systems’, one of the four themes of the competition.
Since 2002, RASC-AL competitions, managed by NASA, have been held with themes on innovative aerospace system and missions, in which world-class undergraduate and graduate students have participated.
This year’s themes were ▲ Lightweight Exercise Suite ▲ Airlock Design ▲ Commercially Enabled LEO/Mars Habitable Module and ▲ Logistics Delivery System.
Moon exploration requires a great deal of time and supplies. The KAIST team has been researching supply delivery systems in space for long-term manned moon exploration with their joint team for the last eight months. In particular, incidents can occur during the initial stages of long-term manned moon exploration missions that are unpredictable during system design and planning. Therefore, to cope with such unpredictability in the mission, the KAIST team deduced a system and an operational concept with increased flexibility to maximize the cost effectiveness of the supply transport.
The spacecraft was divided into propulsion and transport modules based on their functionalities, and can allow the flexibility by switching the transport module according to the demands of the moon base. The operational flexibility and cost effectiveness are further increased by introducing multiple departure orbits from the Earth (e.g. low Earth orbit vs. geosynchronous Earth orbit) enabled by utilization of various launch vehicles.
Professor Ahn, the advisor for the team, said, “I am proud of the students who collaborated with the international joint teams and achieved great result.” He continued, “I believe this to be the result of continuous efforts and initiatives of the department for system design-centered education. We will keep providing high-quality system design and education through various opportunities such as international cooperation in design education.”
(Photo caption: KAIST team of the Department of Aerospace Engineering poses after winning the Best in Theme Award in NASA's RASC-AL)