UTC Aerospace Systems x SEArch+

Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, founder of Interwoven and partner in SEArch+ (Space Exploration Architecture) worked with the SEArch+ team and UTC Aerospace Systems, of Windsor Locks, CT, to design and develop a new concept for the front panel geometry of NASA’s aerospace palette system.  These palettes are the primary transportation and housing system for ECLSS (Environment Control & Life Support System) equipment on board all current NASA extraterrestrial vehicles. The design achieves project goals including –  easy access for crew interaction, repair and maintenance, improved maneuverability within the habitat, unified visual language and intuitive crew interaction.



What we did

  • Design Thinking Charette - to determine project goals
  • Establishment of functional requirement and design goals
  • Multiple design iterations that met NASA and UTC specification
  • Materials research and selection
  • Manufacturing constraints for space travel
  • Palette configuration studies
  • Full DFM CAD modeling
  • Full scale protoyping
  • Manufactured for NASA demonstration installation

Clients / Collaborators

CAD drawings of geometric storage
CAD drawings of geometric storage compartment design

Front Panel Geometry Design and Iteration

Our concept considers faceting the ECLSS front panels for the purposes of providing strength to an ultra lightweight material, creating visual variety, and allowing for acoustical refraction and dampening. The aluminum front panels are projected to be finished in an anti-microbial surfacing to add texture to the habitat environment.

model pulling a blue handle on spacecraft wall panel
adjustable blue handle on spacecraft wall panel

Human Factors Methodology

SEArch+ assumed a human factors driven design methodology to address not only the industrial design of the front panel, but also its ergonomics, massing, aesthetics, and the relationship to the larger ship.

The spatial layout allows for a variety of half and full palette configurations with integrated angled venting top and bottom. The detailing of the palettes with hinges located as required allows for an integrated recessed color coded handles and LED strip lighting, and inset/rotational touch (viewing level) screen iPads in each unit.


SEArch+ develops human-supporting design concepts for living in space and space exploration.