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NASA selects six companies to develop prototypes and concepts for Deep Space Habitats

NASA and industry partners will expand commercial development of space in low-Earth orbit. In addition, they will also work towards improving deep space exploration capabilities to support more extensive human spaceflight missions.

Aug 16, 2016 08:10 IST
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Deep SpaceThe National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 10 August 2016 selected six U.S. companies to develop ground prototypes and concepts for deep space habitats. This will help in advancing the Journey to Mars.

NASA and industry partners will expand commercial development of space in low-Earth orbit. In addition, they will also work towards improving deep space exploration capabilities to support more extensive human spaceflight missions.

The six companies are:

Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas
Boeing of Pasadena, Texas
Lockheed Martin of Denver
Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems of Louisville, Colorado
NanoRacks of Webster, Texas

Key highlights

Full-sized ground prototypes and concepts for deep space habitats will be developed under the second Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement (NextSTEP-2).

NextSTEP establishes unique public-private partnerships that seek to advance commercial development of space.

NextSTEP is managed by the Advanced Exploration Systems Division (AES) in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

An effective habitat comprises a pressurized volume plus an integrated array of complex systems and components that include a docking capability, Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS), logistics management etc.

The ground prototypes will allow NASA and the partners to evaluate configurations of the habitat, how the various systems interact together and with other capabilities like propulsion modules and airlocks.

It will also provide platforms to test and ensure the standards and common interfaces being considered are well thought out.

The ground prototypes will be used for three primary purposes: supporting integrated systems testing, human factors and operations testing, and to help define overall system functionality.

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