Going back to the moon requires a lot of preparatory work on Earth. You could become a part of that excitement. NASA is offering an internship for engineering students who can help design tools and instrumentation for human and robotic exploration on the moon.

The ETDP’s [Exploration Technology Development Program] goal is to help NASA conduct future human exploration missions, and at the same time reduce mission cost and risks. The designers of the flight systems in the Constellation Systems will be the beneficiary of ETDP’s efforts. Orion is currently being designed to take astronauts to the International Space Station and beyond. Orion’s first flight is planned for 2014.

Several projects come under the umbrella of ETDP. Among them are:

  • Structure, materials and mechanisms – for producing lightweight vehicles and habitat structures
  • Protection systems – for staving off the heat of the sun, and preventing damage from moon dust
  • Non toxic propulsion – for Orion and the lander
  • Energy Storage and Power Systems – to capture and keep solar energy
  • Thermal Control for Surface Systems – to develop heat pumps and evaporators
  • Avionics and Software – to develop radiation-hardened and low-temperature electronics
  • Environmental Control and Life Support – for atmospheric management and waste disposal
  • Crew Support and Accommodations – to make a new spacesuit for walking on the moon
  • In-Situ Resource Utilization – to excavate the moon’s surface and develop a sustainable lunar outpost
  • International Space Station Research – performing fundamental microgravity research

The Orion project’s preliminary design review was completed recently, one of a series of checkpoints in the complex engineering project. Hardware manufacturing cannot begin until all checkpoints are passed satisfactorily. Orion is being designed for three types of missions, beginning with short hops to the International Space Station, then a week-long mission to the moon, followed by missions to the moon lasting up to 210 days.

If you want to be a part of space exploration history, you need to send NASA a notice of intent indicating that you plan to enter the competition in a specific category. To enter you must be a student in an accredited college or university in the US, or its territories, and be sponsored by a faculty member. Your application must be in by the 15th of December, so get a move on.