RCSP Welcomes NASA Interns
Last summer the Rocket City Space Pioneers and Dynetics hosted a team of research assistants (RAs) from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s (MSFC) Robotics Academy. That endeavor was such a success that we have decided to do it again. The RCSP Team in 2011 was comprised of five students who developed a detailed concept design for a lunar lander test bed. This summer, we have a three-student team, including one repeat, that will concentrate on prototype efforts for the RCSP lunar rover.
The NASA Robotics Academy is a selective 10-week program sponsored by the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Students receive a stipend, paid lodging, and numerous field trips to space-related sites around the country. The Academy’s program objectives are to give the students a working knowledge of NASA’s robotics programs, expose students to the operations of a NASA field center, provide technical experience in a world-class laboratory, and encourage the students to achieve a team camaraderie experience wherein people work together to accomplish common goals.
The RCSP team will be working onsite at the Dynetics Solutions Complex facility, just a few miles from MSFC. The students arrived just after Memorial Day and hit the ground running. Earlier this week, after less than a week on the job, they led a successful System Requirements Review (SRR) for the summer project. These guys have set some lofty goals for a 10-week project, but I have no doubt they’ll be able to succeed. The project team lead, Allen Bordelon, has a few thoughts about the program.
As followers of the blog will notice, this is my first RCSP post, but my name has been seen before. I was one of the five RCSP Robotics Academy interns in the summer of 2011. After having had the pleasure of working with Dynetics and RCSP last year, I am excited to return this summer as team lead for the interns. I recently graduated from Louisiana State University, receiving two BS degrees, one in Electrical Engineering and another in Computer Engineering. Joining me as RCSP teammates this summer are Matt Anderson, a senior in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and Jason Entenmann, a junior in Electrical Engineering at the University of South Florida.
This summer we are tasked with the design, build, and test of a suspension and drive system for the RCSP lunar rover. In the past week we have set our goals and objectives for the summer, as well as defined the requirements we must meet. Having just completed our SRR, we are currently working on trade studies before moving on to designing and eventually building an earth-based prototype. This prototype will be used to test maneuverability and functionality of the rover on the lunar terrain test bed previously developed by students at the Huntsville Center for Technology (HCT). This testing will provide valuable data about the performance of the lunar rover and potentially highlight problem areas that need to be addressed. Although we have set some challenging goals for the summer given the time span, I have no doubt that our team can accomplish them.