NASA has selected six US companies to develop deep-space-habitat prototypes.
Straight out of a science-fiction story, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration wants to build a safe place for humans to live as we spread beyond Earth.
“NASA is on an ambitious expansion of human spaceflight, including the Journey to Mars, and we’re utilizing the innovation, skill, and knowledge of both the government and private sectors,” Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems, said in a statement.
The selected partners are:
— Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas, Nev.
— Boeing of Pasadena, Texas
— Lockheed Martin of Denver, Colo.
— Orbital ATK of Dulles, Va.
— Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems of Louisville, Colo.
— NanoRocks of Webster, Texas
Each company has up to 24 months to develop ground prototypes and/or conduct concept studies. The models will be used to support integrated systems testing, human factors, and operations testing, as well as help define overall system functionality.
NASA intends to spend an estimated $65 million in contract awards, covering work in 2016 and 2017.
“The next human exploration capabilities needed beyond the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule are deep space, long-duration habitation and in-space propulsion,” Crusan said. “We are no adding focus and specifics on the deep space habitats where humans will live and work independently for months or years at a time, without cargo supply deliveries from Earth.”
Last week, NASA celebrated the Mars Rover’s fourth anniversary with an online game, cleverly called “Mars Rover Game.” Available to play via the Web or on an Android or iOS handset, the free title lets users control the Rover, gaining points for every resource you scan on the Red Planet.