NASA : XHab Development – Deep Space Habitation

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Our design challenge of a vertically-oriented habitat was to work with the volumetric constraints and the envelope of the habitat given that the focus is on deep space habitats which must contain everything they need from the start, without resupply. This project hinged on a Building Information Modeling (BIM) approach which we leveraged in two principal ways: 1) The BIM modeling was used for an investigation of pressurized module geometries and layouts, in such a way that facilitated linking with other System Engineering modeling techniques for the tracking of the CAD models, requirements, dependencies and subsystem integration 2) In addition, the study also developed a diagnostic strategy using state-of-the-art digital techniques derived from the Building Information Modeling (BIM) virtualization.  We integrated design optimization of additive printing devices as an iterative process of design through the BIM model which is directly tied to fabrication. The BIM capability is relevant to very long duration missions without resupply because the computational model of the habitat included every piece of equipment, every stowage volume, every component of floor deck, all utility systems, all interior secondary structures, etc.  While the architectural BIM model is great for facilitating a comparative design process up to the point of construction, we propose that model is also perfect for creating the framework for dynamic systems management.  Although we began with a traditional BIM software (REVIT) for the design explorations we quickly turned to a more dynamic modeling software (Rhino) using a scripting plug-in (Grasshopper).  The approach we took was to turn traditionally “parametric” software into a BIM software using the live integration of Excel Software for text-based input. Methodologically, in this way we were able to utilize our BIM approach as a means to pursue alternative architectural designs within a constraint-driven approach.   We were therefore able to use our BIM approach to evaluate different floor plan layouts, and even material and weight choices based on quantitative data.

The model was used to carry out a system engineering approach centered upon an up-front Trade and Analysis study in the pre-Preliminary Design Review Phase of the project.  Beginning with a

3-dimensional poche study, we compared alternatives and evaluated the relative merits of variations of the interior layout development as a means to ensure that we were able to down- select the most efficient and effective system design. As this was a parametric approach every decision was reciprocal and allowed us to maintain traceability of design decisions back to the fundamental requirements and provide a documented, analytical rationale for choices made in system development.




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