In 2020, the Mirpuri Foundation sponsored the prestigious American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Space Architecture Technical Committee Research Paper Awards. 

Advancing aeronautical research is one of the founding pillars of the Mirpuri Foundation, while the AIAA, which has over 30,000 members worldwide, is a professional society for aerospace engineers. It is also the US representative on the International Astronautical Federation and the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences.

The Mirpuri Foundation established a collaboration with the AIAA’s Space Architecture Technical Committee, providing a grant for the best annual professional and student published research papers. 

The 2020 Best Paper Awards recognized excellence in research in Space Architecture, the theory and practice of designing and building inhabited environments in outer space. This emerging field of space architecture seeks to better the human condition through the design of the built environment on space and on earth and supporting the design and building of a sustainable future in the solar system.



The Mirpuri Foundation, AIAA Space Architecture Technical Committee and announced the Winners of the 2020 Best Paper Awards in November 2020.

The Best Professional Paper was 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.

This was the first sponsored Space Architecture Best Paper Award in the world.


About the AIAA

The AIAA currently has over 6,500 student members in 160 active student branches, including 12 foreign student branches. It is devoted to the education of both practicing and future aerospace professionals and numerous scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate students. 


Photo credits: Space Architecture is the theory and practice of designing human habitats from the scale of furniture to the scale of buildings. From left clockwise: Space Operations Center (Jason Olson, Brand Griffin), Gateway Station (Liquifer Systems Group), Space Station Freedom (Paul Hudson, Brand Griffin), Mars X House 1 (SEArch+/Apis Cor), Space Station Wardroom (NASA ARC, JSC, David Nixon, Southern California Institute of Architecture), Mars Ice Home (NASA LRC / SEArch/CloudsAO). Used with permission from and AIAA Space Architecture Technical Committee