NASA Deep Space Food Challenge and Beyond at Smart Design

Executive Technology Director

About the salon

As part of the 2023 NYCxDesign Week, John Anderson, Executive Technology Director at Smart Design, and Denise Morris, NASA Centennial Challenges Program Manager, welcomed Phnam Bagley, Founding Partner & Creative Director of Nonfiction, Ralph Fritsche, Senior Project Manager for Space Crop Production at NASA, and Conrad Zeidler, Engineer, Food Production Team at the CSA for a discussion on the role and impact of design and innovation as we reach for the stars. 

Starting with the NASA Deep Space Food Challenge, they discussed their approaches and perspectives to designing and developing food production systems, terrestrial analogs, and the infrastructure needed to sustain long-duration space missions and everyday life in your home and community.

Our panelists

Phnam Bagley is the Founding Partner & Creative Director of Nonfiction, a design firm that turns science fiction into reality for a better future. She is an industrial designer, futurist, and aerospace architect creating cutting-edge hardware and experiences in wearables, healthcare and wellness, education, robotics, transportation, and aerospace. She specializes in turning groundbreaking technologies into attainable, intuitive, and beautiful products and experiences that help humans become the best versions of themselves.

Ralph Fritsche is the Space Crop Production Project Manager for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), leading the effort to develop sustainable and reliable fresh food systems in support of long-duration space missions beyond low Earth orbit. Mr. Fritsche has supported the US Space Shuttle and Space Station Programs in various engineering and operational roles and is a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

Conrad Zeidler joined the Space Exploration Planning, Coordination, and Advanced Concepts Directorate of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in March 2021 as an engineer in the framework of Interchange Canada. At the CSA he is the lead for the CSA’s Deep Space Food Challenge and is working in CSA’s Food Production Team. Before this, he worked for almost 10 years as a scientific employee for the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Bremen, Germany, at the Institute of Space Systems. He was a member of the EDEN research group investigating future planetary surface habitats and greenhouses with a focus on operations and control systems.

About John Anderson

John’s background is in software development, hardware engineering, data science, and product design. Besides his recent work on the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch, he oversees a product and engineering team building an IoT platform using machine learning, sensing, and computer vision. John is also a technical advisor at NYU Stern School of Business where he is frequently asked to speak about how designers and engineers can create experiences for people with accessibility needs.

About Denise Morris

Denise P. Morris was appointed Program Manager of the NASA Centennial Challenges Program in January 2022, prior to this assignment she was the Deputy Program Manager. In this role, Mrs. Morris helps in managing the day-to-day operations of the Agency Flagship Prizes and Competition program that currently includes 5 active challenge competitions and several challenges. She has been the recipient of numerous NASA awards, including the Silver Snoopy Award (1997), which is given by the NASA Astronauts for professionalism, dedication and outstanding support to space flight mission success, a Space Flight Awareness Award, a JSC Director’s Innovation Award, a Silver Medal for team leadership, several European Space Agency Awards and numerous NASA Individual and Group Achievement Awards.

Let’s design a smarter world together