EDISON, NJ - A team of Edison middle-schoolers named Team EON last Friday presented their design concept for the living quarters of the spacecraft that will go to Mars to astronaut Sam Durrance and other space experts at Kennedy Space Center.

“One of the things that stood out the most was your use of 3-D printers," engineer Nicholoas Day told the middle-schoolers from Woodrow Wilson School in Edison. "I also liked the idea of the retractable arm using centrifugal force…In the vacuum of space, it would be difficult to maintain that capability with the telescopic arms, did you look into that at all?”

“Not really, but obviously you could put on your space suit and do EVA with your lubricants if anything doesn’t work," said Aarav Zutshi, Team EON member.

Sign Up for E-News

Gary Napier, communications manager, of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, asked, “How did you come to hear about laser communications?”

“I researched how do astronauts communicate, and at first all I saw was radio communication. I searched for better ways and found this idea for laser communication, and it wasn’t fully developed yet, but the Orion will come out later so I thought if they could continue to develop it, it could be ready during that time," said Siddhant Vashisht, Team EON member.

“Orion is actually going to have an optical comms system on it…so it is absolutely going to be used when we send it off to Mars. So great job on that," Napier told Team EON.