Friday, May 11, 2018

Balloon Launch. Mission V. Deployment.

Drone pilot: Jordan Krueger.

EVA Balloon Launch. Drone View

Drone pilot: Jordan Krueger

Meet the crew, Part 3. Nelio Nelio Batista, mission engineer.

Hello Everyone!

My name is Nelio Batista I'm from Uberlândia-MG-Brazil, I'm Biomedical Engineering undergrad senior.
Since I was a kid my dream was always to be an astronaut and work for NASA. Since I got here in USA as an international student, I had wonderful opportunities to join in space projects and also help on habitat final adjustments and to propose biomedical experiments to the previous Mission(ILMAH IV).
In this mission I'm testing the concept of "How can the Fast prototyping systems like a 3D printer can help astronauts on Mars". I used a 3D printer to create a type of CubeSat to be launched in a High altitude Balloon carrying sensors. I'm loving this mission and this environment, I could stay here FOREVER! Hahaha

To come here to USA I had my flight cancelled by the Hurricane Maria but I was so decided to come and start pursuing my dreams that amazing things happened! Recently, I came from NASA Ames where I'm participating in a project to build a mockup to test concepts of a Mars Drill.

I also joined UND rocket team where I got a great opportunity to practice my engineering skills in the NASA Rocket Competition between more than 40 other US Universities at Marshall Spaceflight Center in Alabama, where we won the 2nd prize on the best website category.

Well, that's it for now! If you would like to know more about me or need a supporting word, feel free to send me a message to nelio.batistadonasci(AT)

Ad Astra!
Tchau!!(bye in portuguese)

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Meet the crew, Part 2. Michael Castro, MD.

Michael Castro was born in Chicago, IL and moved to Palm Bay, Florida when he was 9. He started at the University of Florida then transferred to Florida Tech where he graduated with a B.S in applied mathematics while also getting his private pilot certification. After graduating from med school in 2012, he was selected as a reserve crew member for Hi-Seas mission III in Hawaii 2014 and then the flight engineer for Hera campaign-2 mission 1 at JSC in Houston in 2015. When Dr. Castro is not simulating missions on Mars, he enjoys traveling the earth, exercising, judo and movies with his father and brother, who are also MDs.

Monday, May 07, 2018

WDAZ Coverage of Mission V

Meet the Crew, Part 1. Prabhu Victor, Mission V Commander.

My name is Prabhu Victor and I am the mission commander for mission V of the Inflatable Lunar/Mars Analog Habitat (ILMAH). Mission V is a 14-day mission where we are conducting 7 EVA’s and gathering data for 12 different experiments. This is my second mission inside the ILMAH while my first mission was in Oct 2017 where I participated as a mission commander for mission IV of the ILMAH. I’m from Eden Prairie, Minnesota and my background is in Electrical Engineering and I’m currently a grad student at the Space Studies Dept. at UND. I also work at Northrop Grumman in the Grand Sky facility near Grand Forks. For this mission, I’m overseeing the operation of the habitat and the two modules. I helped with the integration of the plant and EVA module to the main module of the ILMAH. I’m curious to see how well the different systems of the habitat operate together and note how the integration could be improved. I’m looking forward to working with the plant module and help make the process for growing plants more automated. The plant module has been updated with drip feeding and hydroponic systems to provide the water and nutrients to the variety of plants currently growing. I’d like to see how this upgrade in automation helps with the process of growing the plants compared to mission IV where the plants had to be manually watered and provided nutrition’s several times a day. I hope you enjoy learning about our experience and EVA’s throughout this mission! If you had any questions or would like to learn more about the mission feel free to email me at prabhu.victor(AT) 

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Day 3, and a second EVA.

The crew is getting more practice into the suitport undocking

Nelio and Michael are ready to go

Exiting the airlock
Prabhu leaving the suitport
Crew during EVA


On May 3rd, the crew performed their first EVA to start familiarization with the space suits.

Trying the suits

Joseph Clift assisting the crew during the EVA

Dr. Gloria Leon (Space Psychologist, Univ. of Minnesota) visiting during the EVA. Crewmember Michael Castro, MD is inside the suit.

Nelio Nascimento (Brazil) and Michael Castro, MD salute in front of the camera.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Some highlights of Day 1 of Mission V

Here are some photos of the Mission 5 crew entry into the habitat.

Crew and mission support before start of Mission 5.
Michael Castro, Prabhu Victor and Nelio Nascimento

Media specialist interviewing Prabhu Victor

Media specialist interviewing Michael Castro, MD

Crew ready to enter habitat

Final photos before start of the mission

Nelio Nascimento closes the habitat door


At 1:15PM CST today, the new crew of Mission 5 entered to the habitat for their two-weeks mission.
The crewmembers are:

From left to right, Nelio Nascimento, Biomedical Engineer from Brazil, Prabhu Victor, Commander (who previously served as crewmember of Mission 4), and Michael Castro, MD who is the mission medical officer and is a veteran of a NASA HERA analog mission.


Today, May 2nd a new two-week mission starts at the ILMAH.
Three crewmember will be performing an array of experiments and simulated operations.

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.