Monday, October 30, 2017

Looking back

Mission IV of the ILMAH concluded on Wednesday October 25, 2017. Prabhu Victor, Stefan Tomovic and Joseph Clift exited the habitat at 11 AM. They explained the purpose of the mission as well their experience during it to the press who waited outside for their arrival. Here’s some of the highlights.

The crew had an assortment of interesting food during their stay inside the hab.

The crew made their own bread with a bread maker for PBJ sandwiches.


Here they are having a breakfast of eggs and sausages.


Stefan overestimates his egg flipping skills early in the morning.


The crew incorporated many of the plants they grew in the plant module in their meals for fresh greens.

Tortillas with lunch meat, salsa and arugula that was harvested in the plant module.


Salad with Hab grown greens and tuna.


Mission IV also incorporated fully vegan meals prepared by the Herbivorous Butcher company. The viability of vegan foods were examined since in future space travel, food will mostly be plant based. This is because plants can be grown easier in a closed loop environment and less space whereas livestock would require a lot more space.


Here are different vegan meals that was prepared by the Herbivorous Butcher. Top Left: Enchiladas, Top Right: Frittatas, Bottom Left: Potato O’Brien, Bottom Right: Rice and Beans.


Here are also some pictures of the crew keeping themselves busy.

The crew is doing a video chat with a 5th grade classroom and answering their questions about space travel and the mission.

Stefan and Prabhu complete the polygraph test to see how stress affects us as the mission goes on.


The crew take a break from the experiments and watch some Rick and Morty.


Stefan getting some light reading in before turning in for bed.


The crew is taking care of the plants and planting new seeds.


Finally, the crew posing by the Mission IV flag after they exited from the ILMAH after the 14-day mission.



Here are the crew behind the scenes that helped with the mission and worked long nights to make it happen! Starting from the left: Jennifer Russel, Devi Dina, Nanette Valentour, Kayla Daniels, Anamika Pandey, Peter Henson, Rakesh Balaji, Denise Buckner, Taren Wang, Pablo de Leon, Nelio Batista, Reece Lindquist and our Lead Mission Control Travis Nelson. Big thanks from the crew to them for all their hard work and enthusiasm!

EVA 7 (first Night EVA)

Tuesday Oct 24, EVA 7

EVA 7 was the only night EVA done during mission IV in the ILMAH! The main objective of the EVA was to locate and observe the moon and Saturn using a telescope. The telescope would be controlled remotely through CAPCOM (Stefan) from inside the hab.

The EVA team had to wait until the telescope was calibrated to be able to get good photos of the Moon and Saturn.


However, it was too cloudy in the night to get a good visual of the night sky so we moved on to the next objective. The EVA team then began to evaluate the effectiveness of the visibility of the NDX-2AT suit lights. Prabhu and Joe had to note the farthest distance they could see with the suit lights and relay it back to CAPCOM. They also had to walk to the farthest spot they could see and then check to see if they can still see the habitat from where they were.

After the suit lights visibility test, the EVA team then got to plant the flag for mission IV in the ILMAH. This concluded the last EVA for 14-day mission inside ILMAH!

Joe(Blueberry) and Prabhu (Tangerine) posed for the cameras after they planted the flag for mission IV

Thursday, October 26, 2017

EVA #6 Monday October 23rd by Prabhu Victor

This EVA involved a “nuclear” generator (actually, a Diesel one), which was delivered by a robotic spacecraft, and connect it to the habitat. The crew first had to secure the perimeter of the nuclear generator, connect the cables, turn on the generator and confirm with CAPCOM and mission control that the generator is powering the hab. The EVA team also practiced emergency procedure such as suit decompression and loss of visibility.

The EVA team this time was Stefan Tomovic inside Tangerine and Joseph Clift inside Blueberry. Prabhu Victor acted as CAPCOM.

The EVA team had driven spikes into the ground and wrapped caution tape around the perimeter. They then focused on the generator and got it back online!


After confirming that the generator was online, the EVA team went around the habitat to check the status of the tarp as well as the outside layer. However, during the status check, Stefan went through a suit decompression! That means the suit was losing pressure rapidly and in real life that is very dangerous. Joseph had to go through suit decompression procedures and repair the tear with a special suit patch which was provided to them prior to the mission.


Joe is applying the suit patch to Stefan’s suit and saving his life!

After the suit was patched Mission Control confirmed that Stefan’s suit was pressurizing again. This meant that the suit patch was successful. The EVA crew continued with their status check of the hub until Stefan lost visibility in his suit. Joe then had to call out their current position to CAPCOM and lead Stefan back to the Hab and conclude the EVA. Practicing these emergency procedures help us learn how we can make the process more efficient which can end up saving an astronauts life in the future!

EVA #5 Friday October 20th by Prabhu Victor

The EVA crew was Prabhu Victor and Stefan Tomovic with Joseph Clift acting as CAPCOM. For this EVA, the main focus was on how well the EVA team can get in and out of the spacesuits by themselves. Prabhu and Stefan had to get in and out of the suits a total of four times! It can be a very exhausting process. For example, Prabhu had burned a total of 960 calories during this EVA just due to the process of getting in and out of the NDX-2AT.
First, the EVA team had to don the NDX-2AT space suits and exit from EVA Module and install solar panels to connect to the hab.

Prabhu and Stefan installing solar panels

Then the EVA team docked the Pressurized Electric Rover (PER) and drove to set GPS waypoints to gather tools and collect samples. Once they go to the GPS waypoints they had to get back into the suits and collect all the samples.

Here Stefan is gather the samples with his specialized tool designed for use with space suits.

The EVA team then attached themselves back to the PER suit ports, exited the suits, and drove back to the habitat to dock and conclude the EVA.


Friday, October 20, 2017

About the EVA Procedures by Prabhu Victor


The day before each EVA, mission control gives the crew members a pre-brief on what to expect during the EVA. This includes explaining about the tasks, the equipment available and results that are expected. The crew then decides which crew members will perform the EVA’s and who remains in the habitat to act as Capsule Communication (CAPCOM). The CAPMCOM in this instance acts as a relay for information between mission control and the EVA team. The crew then prepare all the necessary tools they need for the EVA and set them aside.



The Pre-EVA is an extensive process that takes about 30 mins to complete.

Figure 1: This is the usual attire of someone about to wear the NDX-2AT space suits. 1. The headset is connected to a radio used to communicate with mission control and CAPCOM. The headset provides voice activated communication which provides the crew member the ability to use both of their hands for other EVA related activities. 2. The upper body clothing is tight fitted and covers most of the skin to mitigate bacteria contamination with the bladder of the NDX-2AT suits. The tight fit allows the crew member to slide into the suit easier without having any cloth bunch up while entering the suit. 3. The pack holds both the batteries for the suit as well as the radio used for hands free communication. 4. The white gloves prevents the crews hand from sticking to the inside bladder of the suit due to perspiration. The gloves also mitigate bacterial contamination of the suits. 5. Tight fitted pants allow the crew member to slide into the suit easier without having any of the pants bunch up from the inside bladder. 6. Long socks are worn over the pants in order to prevent the hem of the pants getting caught in the inner bladder. Shoes are not worn when entering the suits.

Fig. 2

Fig. 3
Figure 2, 3: Here, the crew members can be seen fitting the suits with the suit cameras. The cameras give CAPCOM a video transmission of each suit which allows for better coordination and communication between the EVA crew and CAPCOM.


Getting in the suits:

4a                                                         4b
Figure 4: a) The suits are docked on the suit ports in the EVA module. b) The inside of the suits. The yellow cloth is the inner bladder of the suit. The crew members have to put their feet in first and then once their feet is secure and on the ground, they can insert their hands into the suits. c) Here is crewmember Stefan entering the rear entry NDX-2AT suits. The bar above helps the crew support themselves as they lower themselves into the suit. It helps to have upper body strength to go on an EVA because sometimes it can take a little longer to get into the suits and your arms can get very tired.

During EVA

Figure 5: After donning the suits the EVA team exit the EVA module and begin completing their objectives. In this example, the crew had to use UND’s Roborover, built by Space Studies graduate student Chris Follette, to retrieve samples places around the ILMAH in specific GPS coordinates. The crew used a handheld GPS to locate the samples, retrieve them and place them in the sample return box located in the Pressurized Electric Rover.


Figure 6: After crewmembers complete their task's they conclude their EVA with checking the status of the Hab. Throughout the EVA, the crew members in the suits are in constant communication with CAPCOM and Mission Control to ensure proper completion of tasks.

Habitat Description. Part 3.

We continue with the descriptions of the modules. This is final entry is about the Plants Production Module.
Plant Module North

1.Plant light fixtures: The heights of these light fixtures can be adjusted according to the plants. They contain special light bulbs that are made to help with plant growth. They produce full spectrum UV rays to mimic the sunlight.

2.Current plant batch;

3.Sensor bay computer: This computer connects to a circuit which monitor’s the carbon monoxide levels as well as the air quality in the plant module. The circuit also helps us keep an eye on the temperature and humidity levels inside the module.

Closer look at the plants

Here’s a closer look at the plants, we have spinach, arugula, red lettuce and green lettuce. It was a bit of a learning curve to get the watering right but now we know what to look for when the plant need water. We have the plants on a 16-hour cycle, so that means we keep the lights on for 16 hours and off for 8 hours. The crew really enjoys working in the plant module, we might plant some seeds and start a few new batches soon!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

EVA 4. First Launch of a Balloon while in an EVA

The study of the upper atmosphere on Mars can be accomplished using high altitude balloons, just as is done on Earth. NASA has been studying this possibility fort several years.

During human missions to the Red Planet, astronauts can manually launch those balloons, so we wanted to know how difficult it is, while wearing space suits, to prepare, fill and launch a radiosonde. This was accomplished today, when the crew launched for the first time a high altitude balloon, while wearing space suits.
Some new techniques had to be developed so the crew could prepare and inflate, and close the balloon with the encumbrance of the thick space suit gloves.

Habitat Description. Part 2.

 Today we continue with the Modules' description. Today, the Extravehicular (EVA) Module.

EVA Module East

This is the east side of the EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) module. The EVA module is where the crew can enter the space suits and go on a space-walk. For this mission, the crew members also do their workouts in this area. In the future a big table in the middle might be installed to provide an area to work on the space suits.

1.Soldering and electronics station: Since two of the crew members are electrical engineers, we created a soldering station to work on our individual circuits.

2.Comm station: Intercom system to talk with the crew members in the other modules.

3.Heater: We usually turn this on in the night so the EVA module isn’t freezing when we go in to work out in the morning.
4.Toolstation: Where we keep all our beautiful tools.

EVA Module West

1.Space suit equipment station: This is where we keep all the equipment necessary for the upcoming EVA. The suit and radio batteries get charged and tested here.

2. EVA airlock door: The EVA airlock door allows the crew to enter the airlock and inspect the suits. The reason behind the airlock is that it helps with dust mitigation. Lunar regolith was a considerable problem during the Apollo missions and Martian dust will pose a bigger threat since it contains perchlorates which is harmful to human anatomy. The EVA module was built with rear entry suit ports and airlock to mitigate such dust contaminations.

3.Rear entry suit ports: The crew member enters the suit through this opening. The crew member will pull themselves up with the help of the bar above and then gently lower themselves into the space suit. A second crewmember would then zip them up and seal the suits.


EVA Airlock

Here we can see the airlock with the space suits connected. Once the crew member enters the suit and is all sealed up, they reach up with their right hand and pull down the lever to release themselves from the suit port.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Habitat Description. Part 1.

 This is a brief description of the Core Module interior, provided by the crew, to better explain what is inside. During the next days we will be covering the rest of the habitat.
1.Workstation: This is where we do most of the lab tests such as tests for reaction time and polygraph tests.
2.Frozen food storage
3.Controls for the docking ring: There’s a camera attached to the docking ring which provides a video feed to mission control who then adjusts horizontally or vertically to make a tight seal with the rover.
4.Docking ring door: Airtight door which gives us access to the docking ring.
5.Surveillance system: The surveillance system provides video feeds surrounding the habitat so the crew can keep an eye out for aliens.
6.Radio systems: This is where the crew can communicate with mission control.
7.Comm system: This is the intercom system the crew uses to communicate between the modules.
8.Entertainment system: This is where the crew keeps up to date with the important news from Earth. In this picture, the crewmates, Stefan and Joe can be seen keeping up with the Vikings game.
1.Bathroom: This bathroom has a toilet, sink and a shower complete with hot water!

2.White board: This is where the crew puts down a schedule for the current day as well the next day.
3. Kitchen counter: We use this counter to cook our food on a portable stove or oven.
4.Sleeping quarters: There are four personal areas with a bed and sliding doors where the individual crewmates can have some private time and sleep.
5.Food storage and emergency supplies: The crew stores their food here as well as the harvest from the plant module. The emergency supplies are stored above the fridge.
6.Dining areas: This is where the crew eats and analyze the harvest from the plant module.
7.Heater: The crew use this heater to regulate the temperature in the work area.


Mission 4 Second EVA

The second planned EVA for Mission 4 took place on 10/16 and was operated by Prabhu and Joseph, while Stefan stayed in the Habitat as CAPCOM.

The EVA was conducted at 1:00 PM and was concluded at 2:45 PM. At 1:00PM CAPCOM assisted the two crew members performing the EVA into their rear entry NDX-2AT suits connected to UND’s Pressurized Electric Rover (PER) which was docked to the ILMAH. After the crewmembers were sealed and pressurized inside the suits, the crewmembers detached themselves from the PER and began the active portion of the EVA. Joseph was then handed a pen and notepad containing the GPS coordinates to the samples. Prabhu was then given a handheld GPS unit to direct the EVA crewmembers towards the samples. After collecting the samples, the EVA team returned to the PER and placed and secured the samples inside the sample return box on the rover.
The EVA team then began the second portion of the EVA which started with inspecting the inflatable habitat for any visible outside damage. Prabhu and Joseph replaced some of the frayed rope that secures the tarp surrounding the ILMAH to protect it from the elements. This portion lasted for 35 mins. of the EVA. After the EVA team and CAPCOM were satisfied with the inspection and repair of the tarp, Prabhu and Joseph returned to the PER and began to dock their NDX-2AT suits to the rover. After successfully docking, the EVA team exited the suits through the rear and began post EVA cleanup and concluded the second EVA of mission IV in the ILMAH.

For this EVA, mission control attached a suit camera to each of the suits so CAPCOM can also have visuals of the EVA crew completing their tasks. This allows another pair of eyes to have input on the tasks to be completed.

LMAH Mission IV Blog Post – Joseph Clift

Hello and welcome to our Lunar Mars Habitat (LMH) blog. My name is Joseph Clift and I am a crewmember of Mission IV. I received my B.S. degree in Bioengineering from the University of California, Riverside. Currently, I am pursuing my M.S. degree in Space Studies here at UND. My tasks during this mission are to observe the effects of our eating habits and nutrition on our performance and biological clocks, as well as preparing the ourselves and our equipment for the EVA missions.

Internally, our tasks will range from doing our classwork, module maintenance and evaluation, to food growth and harvesting. Externally, we will be testing remote vehicle operation, habitat inspection and repairs, a balloon launch, and a night-sky observation EVA (extra vehicular activity). The external activities will all be performed while we are inside our mock spacesuits.

My other projects include observing the physiological aspects during the duration of the mission. I am working towards testing what methods could be done to maintain the same level of optimum performance throughout the mission. Additionally, I will be testing reduced caloric intake during the mission. The goal is to maintain a diet that is on average, less than 2,000 Calories per day. This experiment is to see if reduced caloric intake can translate to less payload mass without making performance sacrifices.

Mission IV is providing an excellent opportunity for exploring and studying potential solutions for future human spaceflight. I will be documenting these for future posts and my own records. It is my hope to use these experiences for future application in the space industry as an explorer and inspirer in either (or both) NASA and private space industry.

Thank you for reading and visiting. Feel free to contact me at for any questions or information regarding the mission.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Prabhu Victor, Mission 4 Commander

My name is Prabhu Victor, I am one of the three crew members for Mission IV as well as the mission commander. I'm originally from India but I lived in Eden Prairie, Minnesota for about 16 years. I am currently pursuing a Master of Science in Space Studies. I received my Bachelor degree from UND in Electrical Engineering from UND. My tasks in this mission involve reporting back to Dr. DeLeon about the status of the mission as well as oversee the completion of mission objectives.

I was very interested in doing this mission because it was one of the reasons I noticed the Space Studies department at UND. I was also interested because I wanted to see my reaction to a confined/isolated environment. It's a new experience and I wanted to learn how it would affect me physically and mentally. To keep track of my mental state I'm writing a journal noting down any out of the ordinary emotions or thoughts throughout the mission. Another main reason I wanted to be involved in this mission is because I helped Dr. DeLeon with the construction of the two additional modules over Summer 2017 along with Nanette Valentour and Stefan Tomovic. I made some improvements in the core module, as well as help assemble the EVA and plant modules. I wanted to evaluate the functionality of the current habitat with the two modules and note any improvements that can be made for future missions. Besides that, I will focus and look into team dynamics and individual time management of the crew during this mission.

I wanted to focus on team dynamics because I was made mission commander. I've had the good luck to work with Joseph and Stefan before this mission. I know all three of us work well together to complete small tasks. But now, we get the chance to work together for 14 entire days! It has already been interesting to see how we work through each task through completion and talk about how we can improve things for the future. I'll be taking note of how the morale will change as we spend more time together in a confined environment. I'm interested in seeing how team dynamics change based on the different EVA's we complete as well. I believe this could help in learning about variables that could increase or decrease stress in confined environments and help improve team morale for future missions.

I'm also interested in learning how each crew member including me, manage their time and how that affects our moods. For example, I want to see how I feel after working on just tasks and psych tests required for this mission vs. breaking up the time to work on my own projects between the required tasks. It'll be interesting to see how working with the plants affects the crew member's mood before taking on other tasks. I also want to see how our level of activity throughout the day affect our energy levels and moods.

These aspects of the mission are just a fraction of the things that could be studied during these missions in the habitat. I do think they will help future missions as well give me insights into my own personality and how I deal with certain issues. I am grateful to be given this opportunity and will provide future posts on how Mission 4 of the Inflatable Mars/Lunar Analog Habitat is progressing. Thanks for reading! If you have any suggestions or questions about the mission feel free to email me at

Sunday, October 15, 2017

LMAH Mission IV Blog Post – Stefan Tomović

My name is Stefan Tomović, and I am one of the three crew members that are a part of Mission IV. I am currently an undergrad at UND. My major is Electrical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. I hail from a small town named Cold Spring, which is in central Minnesota. My tasks throughout the mission are to maintain the electrical systems and monitor the plants. Along with the tasks we have experiments that we have to complete throughout the day. These experiments range from psychological questionnaires, to BioMed polygraph tests. During my downtime I will be designing, building and testing electrical systems that can be implemented in the habitats. I am very excited to be a part of this mission and I am very interested to see what comes of it.

Mission IV will be a test for me personally, to see how I react to being inside a closed environment for 14 days. It will be more a mental exercise than anything else. I believe the mind controls everything in your life, and if you can control your mind you are able to control your universe. To keep my mind clear and focused I will try to focus on three core items: sleep, working out, and diet.

Sleep, I will be trying to go to bed at a and waking up at a regular time. So far, I have done a good job of maintaining this sleep cycle. Sleep is important for the mind, because if it does not rest it can lead to some of the following symptoms: lack of alertness, quality of life, and impaired memory. All three of these symptoms can have negative consequences for the mission. For me to stay sane, and the mission to succeed it is important that a strict sleep cycle is kept.

My daily routine will include the completion of daily tasks and experiments. I will also work out daily. Working out is very important for the mind, as it is a stress reliever. It reduces stress in the brain and can boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. It also will help prevent cognitive decline, alleviate anxieties and sharpen memory amongst many other things. These positive side effects of working out will result in better completion of daily tasks and help with overall mission success.

The last item is diet. Without proper fuel the body and mind will shut down. However, this “fuel” must be balanced. A balanced diet is foundation for good health. A healthy diet includes consuming high-quality proteins, carbohydrates, heart-healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and water in the foods I eat. Eating in this manner helps me maintain my body’s everyday functions, promotes optimal body weight and can assist in disease prevention.

Combining all three of these aspects successfully will help with the progression of daily life within the modules. It will help keep me healthy and sane. It will also allow me to exert maximum effort in my daily tasks and routines. Increasing the results and success of the mission.

I will be writing more posts throughout the duration of the mission. Each post will focus on something specific from the mission. If you would like to read about anything that relates to the mission please let me know. I will be writing these, and I would rather write about something you all would want to read.

Thank you for reading!

-Stefan Tomović

Friday, October 13, 2017


Today, October 13th, 2017 took place the first EVA by Mission 4.
Prabhu Victor and Stefan Tomovic performed the EVA while Joseph Clift remained in the habitat as CAPCOM.
Below are some photos of today´s activities.