With support from the Mirpuri Foundation, the AIAA Space Architecture Technical Committee and are pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Best Paper Awards.

The winner of the Best Professional Paper is awarded to Ariel Ekblaw (MIT),  Anastasia Prosina (MIT / Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture, University of Houston / Stellar Amenities), Dava Newman (MIT), and Joseph Paradiso (MIT) for their paper  “Space Habitat Reconfigurability: TESSERAE platform for self-aware assembly”

The best professional paper gives us a new conception of autonomous control of space structures. The authors created a conceptual dynamic model of space structures that grow and evolve over the course of a mission which can represent a true revolution in the future of space missions.

The Best Student Paper was awarded to an all-female team lead by Heather Hava (University of Colorado Boulder) with Larissa Zhou (Harvard University), Elizabeth Lombardi (Cornell University), Kaixin Cui (University of Colorado Boulder), Heeyeon Joung (University of Colorado Boulder), Sarah Aguasvivas Manzano‖ (University of Colorado Boulder), Abby King (University of Colorado Boulder), Hayley Kinlaw (University of Colorado Boulder), Dr. Kyri Baker (University of Colorado Boulder), Dr. Andrew Kaufman (University of Hawaii Manoa), and Dr. Nikolaus Correll, University of Colorado Boulder for their paper “SIRONA: Sustainable Integration of Regenerative Outer-space Nature and Agriculture. Part 1 – Architecture and Technology”


The SIRONA project tackles a great challenge: how to create a sustainable integration of outer space nature and agriculture with human habitats. “The authors brilliantly proposed solutions integrating architectural design and life.” said AIAA SATC Awards Chair Emanuel Pimenta.

Paulo Mirpuri, President of the Mirpuri Foundation, said: “The Mirpuri Foundation is delighted to have the opportunity to support these prestigious AIAA awards.

“Aeronautical research is one of the founding pillars of the Mirpuri Foundation and the AIAA Space Architecture Technical Committee Awards attract the very highest caliber of entry. 

The bar is very high and the standard is such that the AIAA competitions genuinely drive scientific thinking forward.”

“The Mirpuri Foundation is oriented towards the future of humanity and this is exactly what space architecture is about,” said Pimenta. “Architecture is the expression of what we commonly call civilization, and now it is expanding to space. Every year great space architects and students design and establish new frontiers. The papers for the award selection are among the most advanced works on space architecture in the world. They open our minds to new issues and new horizons, and the awards underline this bringing to a larger audience new discoveries and challenges.” Emanuel Pimenta

“The motto of the Mirpuri Foundation “together for a better world” is very much aligned with the goal of our community,” said AIAA SATC Chair, MS-Space Architecture and SICSA Director, University of Houston. “We want to design a better world for earth and in space. Thank you Mirpuri Foundation for supporting the Best Paper Awards of this year.”

Space Architecture is the theory and practice of designing and building habitable environments in outer space. It is multidisciplinary and involves systems engineering, architecture, sociology, psychology, human factors, and everything needed to support and sustain human life in space and other extreme environments.