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These NASA Prototypes Represent The Next Generation Of Deep Space Habitats

These chambers could become home for astronauts venturing deep into the solar system.

10/08/2016 11:16
Boeing

NASA’s Space Launch System, the largest rocket in the world, will soon propel the crew of the Orion spacecraft deeper into space than ever before. 

But deep space travel doesn’t just require serious fire power, it also entails a fundament reimagining of the habitats in which astronauts live. 

NASA has partnered with six US companies to conceptualise and develop full-sized ground prototypes of the next generation of deep space accommodation. 

In a statement, NASA said the prototypes would support more extensive human space missions in the area of space near the moon, which “will be the proving ground for Mars”. 

“The NextSTEP partnerships are a large contribution to the dual objectives of advancing deep space habitation development and stimulating commercial activities in low-Earth orbit,” said Jason Crusan, Director of Advanced Exploration Systems at NASA Headquarters.

Concept image representing the feasibility study that NanoRacks will conduct related to converting a launch vehicle's upper stage into a habitable volume.

The space agency explains that the ideal accommodation will require a complex array of systems that must work in unison. 

The pressurised volume will need to include docking capability, environmental control and life support systems (ECLSS), logistics management, radiation mitigation and monitoring, fire safety technologies, and crew health capabilities, according to a blogpost

The prototypes will provide the means for engineers to test the platforms and ensure the interfaces are compatible. 

The six selected partners are Bigelow, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and NanoRacks.

NASA is working towards sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s

  • Bigelow Aerospace
    Concept image of Bigelow Aerospace's XBASE docked to the International Space Station.
  • Boeing
    Concept image of Boeing's prototype habitation module.
  • Orbital ATK
    Concept image of Orbital ATK's cislunar habitat based, based on the design of the Cygnus spacecraft.
  • Lockheed Martin
    Concept of Lockheed Martin's NextSTEP-2 habitat with Orion.
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation
    Concept image of Sierra Nevada Corporation's habitation prototype, based on its Dream Chaser cargo module.
  • Concept image representing the feasibility study that NanoRacks will conduct related to converting a launch vehicle's upper stage into a habitable volume.
    NanoRacks
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