Desert RATS Technologies: Habitat Demonstration Unit

by Tracy Gill
Tracy Gill is on the management team of the Habitat Demonstration Unit (HDU) project, which brings together a multi-center team of NASA architects, scientists and engineers, working together to develop sustainable living quarters, workspaces, and laboratories for next-generation space missions.

September 8, 2010

When we last left our intrepid readers on August 30, we told you about getting the Habitat Demonstration Unit-Pressurized Excursion Module (HDU-PEM) configuration assembled and tested in Houston and then packed up to ship to Arizona. Since then, plenty has happened. We had a couple of issues in transporting hardware to Arizona including some elements that were damaged on the bumpy roads that led to our test site and one support vehicle that broke down in Amarillo, Texas that will now arrive about two weeks late. Nonetheless, we have persevered through heat, wind, dust, dust, more dust, and even a little rain to get the HDU-PEM up and running to support Desert Research and Technology Studies (D-RATS) 2010 at SP Mountain in Arizona.

HDU in front of SP Mountain

The HDU PEM ready for operations with SP Mountain just visible in the background.

At SP Mountain, the HDU-PEM team is set up about 14 miles via paved and dirt roads from the main D-RATS base camp at Black Point Lava Flow. So our skeleton crew at SP Mountain had to put forth a tremendous effort in just a few days to unload, assemble, test, and solve problems to be ready for the dry run and then test operations. As someone used to working in clean rooms and control rooms and meeting in conference rooms for pre-test briefings, I found that holding daily pre-test briefings literally in the field was definitely different.

HDU pre-test briefing

Pre-test briefing HDU-PEM-style in the field in Arizona.

The Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) rover crews docked with the HDU-PEM to perform geologic science and other activities at SP Mountain on Day 7 and will dock again at Black Point Lava Flow on Day 14 of the 14-day traverse mission of D-RATS 2010. So that means we have to pack, assemble, and deploy twice during the D-RATS campaign to simulate a mobile asset available for excursions from an exploration base. While the SEV rover crews are only performing joint operations with the HDU-PEM on two mission days, on the other days, we are performing independent test activities using operators such as geologists, engineers, interns, and others. And our human factors experts assess the performance data to help us assess the utility and effectiveness of the technologies, systems, and the operations inside the HDU-PEM.

Medical Operations Workstation

Two of the four workstations inside the HDU-PEM: The Medical Operations Workstation (left) featuring a dual purpose work surface and patient table and the Geolab featuring a Glovebox.

One of the major milestones of the D-RATS 2010 occurred at the end of Mission Day 6 when the two SEV Rovers docked with the HDU-PEM. It made for a great picture as you can see, and our team was quite proud to see our systems being featured on Day 7 of the rover crew’s timeline.

HDU docked with rovers A and B

Space Exploration Vehicle Rovers A and B docked to the HDU-PEM on September 5, 2010 near SP Mountain.

3 thoughts on “Desert RATS Technologies: Habitat Demonstration Unit”

  1. comfrom:”Jason Byrum” I think that I would be the most eligible canidate for the international space station and the world, as we understand it and bring back the space station for the people ofHouston and the south. how many billions do you need for me to buy NASA so me and my Bride to by, to,”flip the script”(quote by Jason Byrum) and in memory of Kristy Mccola and astronauts in the Chaleger disaster, I was in the 3rd. grade. I knew it!
    Sincerely’
    THE KING, Jason A.Byrum
    Peace and God bless to ya’ll in all the South

    Jason.

  2. 500 billion dollers release the funds in all country’s in all the google map and tell Hugh Heffner I need a job jason.com from all the world.
    Jasonfrom:”Jason Byrum” I think that I would be the most eligible canidate for the international space station and the world, as we understand it and bring back the space station for the people ofHouston and the south. how many billions do you need for me to buy NASA so me and my Bride to by, to,”flip the script”(quote by Jason Byrum) and in memory of Kristy Mccola and astronauts in the Chaleger disaster, I was in the 3rd. grade. I knew it!
    Sincerely’
    THE KING, Jason A.Byrum
    Peace and God bless to ya’ll in all the South

    Jason.

  3. This work is fantastic and a very important to test the equipment before it goes to the Moon, Mars or any new destination. I have allways thought there should be a Moon base, Iam so excited with this work and once the equipment is tested. What can be achieved in space will be remarkable.
    The future of space exploration is now looking fantastic, when these people finish this work and this complex is on the Moon or Mars they will go down as legends like the Apollo missions.

    Thank everyone who is working on these projects as its making peoples dreams come true.

    Really excited
    Kevin Walters

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