BEACON TRANSCRIPT – There is a promising new partnership over the horizon. The NASA partnership for deep space habitats aims to look into the future and help astronauts adapt to extreme deep space conditions. So, NASA is teaming up with six companies and together they are going to build orbital habitats for astronauts. These orbital habitats will not be set on the surface of the moon or a planet, but they are going to orbit around it.
NASA is covering 60 percent of the cost of the habitats, and the companies will each pay the remaining 30 percent.
The partner companies are Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and NanoRacks.
Bigelow Aerospace has a concept of re-usable modules. These types of capsules can be fitted together. The concept has multiple uses, like space projects, missions to the Moon and Mars and possibly a hotel in space. It is currently undergoing tests for commercial uses in low Earth orbit.
Boeing is working on a round habitat that is going to be put together in orbit. The capsules are cost efficient and feature a simple design. Boeing is going to monetize the experience it has with the International Space Station, where it contributed to its design, built and maintenance over the past fifteen years.
Lockheed Martin is working on a module which is going to be used for re-supplying the International Space Station. This logistics capsule is going to provide support to the Orion spaceship.
The Orbital ATK company already makes cargo ships for the International Space Station. They are called Cygnus Spacecraft. It wants to further test interfaces of living spaces in hopes of deep space exploration. Its capsule could be used for a long-term mission to Mars.
The Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space System is another competitor. They aim to design inflatable habitats which can be assembled together. These habitats also have a modular design. The technology is intended for Moon orbiters and Mars missions.
NanoRacks is working on the most ambitious project. It wants to design bigger and more sophisticated space bases. It wants to adapt the propellant segment of rockets for being inhabited by people. It could work with multiple rocket systems.
At first, NASA will attempt to put such orbiters into Lunar orbit and if all goes well it is going to send a manned mission to Mars in the following years.
Image Source – Wikipedia