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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — UCF will develop and create innovative space technology to support NASA’s Artemis program.

The university was one of seven awarded a $500,000 grant by NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Space Technology Artemis Research, or M-STAR initiative because it’s a Hispanic Serving Institution, meaning a quarter of its student population are Hispanic.

UCF faculty and students who are experts in engineering, physics and medicine will work together to develop scientific and educational efforts in robotics; materials for extreme environments; and entry, descent and landing technologies.

Engineering team students, led by engineering and aerospace professor Dr. Seetha Raghavan, will work with Blue Origin, NASA and the Florida Space Grant Consortium, which will help them in their careers.

“So, the students get an idea of what it takes and understand what they’ll need to accomplish, what is the technology gap that we have right now and what kind of process you’ll need to grow through to innovate and come up with something that has never been done before,” Raghavan said.

Her engineering team will create a coating using 3-D printing that will surround spaceships or other objects entering space and making lunar landings.

The sensors in the coating are surrounded by nanoparticles that detect the damage space dust and lunar landings cause. The students use lasers to test the coating sample.

“So in order to print those sensors, we have to devise what gives us the best result in detecting damage,” Raghavan said.

Using 3-D printing to develop sensors is a game changer, she said.

“The idea behind this is to try to print sensors using robots without any human intervention,” she said.

That makes it easier and much more possible to one day live in space.

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