NASA Seeks Public’s Ideas for Airlock Hatches in Space

Flexible Seal Challenge

Space is hard.

There’s no air, there’s radiation, and you can’t get in and out of your International Space Station module like it was a minivan.

There are complexities related to the door or hatch operations, and there is limited hatch access to space. This makes extra-vehicular activities (EVA) time consuming and a physical challenge for astronauts who need to work outside their spacecraft, conduct experiments and periodically inspect their orbiting home.

Plus, current space hatch technology means fairly massive, hard, metallic, rigid-point-to-rigid-point structures with no flexibility, and they weigh a lot.

But what if you could save all that mass and volume? What if there was something light and flexible – a hatch you could pack down like a suitcase and ultimately make for an easier EVA?

To answer those questions, NASA needs your ideas.

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