Astro Anchors design flagpole for the moon's surface

April 23, 2024 (Volume 47, Number 17)
Article by Thomas Garrett

The Grand Valley student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is completing a challenge from NASA and will travel to Texas soon for testing.

The Micro-g NExT challenge includes designing a flag, flagpole and anchoring system that can be deployed on the surface of the moon with ease by a fully suited astronaut. Final testing will take place at the NASA Johnson Space Center, with certain designs to be potentially used during the upcoming Artemis III missions.

The 12-person ASME team tackling this challenge call themselves the Astro Anchors. This team worked to develop a simple, yet effective, design that met all of NASA’s constraints, moving them from Phase I of the challenge to Phase II. They join three other universities in the country selected to move on from the first phase of the Lunar Flagpole Challenge.

“In this team, I have gotten to help design, machine and test different parts of the prototype," said Scott Strayer, ASME vice president and Astro Anchors team captain. "Soon I will help test the device at NASA, a hands-on experience I will never forget."

The Astro Anchor’s design included a modular flagpole system with few mechanical components to reduce the time required to deploy the system from a stowed configuration. The team is now refining the design for the final testing on June 2, when seven student representatives will travel to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to accompany their devices as it is tested at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.

Each team member brings their specific skills to the project. Strayer might be machining a part for the prototype; Tasmiya Shaikh, treasurer for ASME, might be working on community outreach with Allendale High School.

“We didn’t have any connections with the high school even though we were so close to each other," Shaikh said. "Now we have established that connection and are working collaboratively with these younger learners on this amazing project. We hope those who come after us will continue to care for that important relationship."

Sanjivan Manoharan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is the project’s faculty advisor. Strayer said if it wasn’t for the constant advice and support from Manoharan, they would have never made it to the second stage. He also credited their sponsors: Aavneo Technologies LLC, GVSU Center for Scholarly Excellence and the GVSU School of Engineering.

“These are the types of big projects we do at ASME, the ones we might face in our future careers that prepare us to work as a team, to solve problems and achieve a goal,” said Strayer.


Across Campus

This article was last edited on April 23, 2024 at 1:19 p.m.

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