We’re not ready to give up on our polluted planet quite yet, but it never hurts to look towards the stars. NASA just launched their eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Competition, which challenges university students to produce “innovative habitat inflatable loft concepts” that can be attached to NASA’s standard hard shell space lab.

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NASA asks potential entrants to adhere to a number of specifications: “Concepts are to be self-deploying in a specified time, will install to a standard interface on NASA’s hard shell Lab, and will meet total mass and volume constraints in both stowed and deployed configuration.

As part of the summer competition, NASA will award up to $48,000 to each of three winning teams. The winner of a performance challenge in the Arizona desert will get another $10,000 and the chance to participate in NASA’s 2011 field test campaign.

Want to get involved? Proposals are due on August 20.

+ X-Hab