NASA asks Lockheed Martin, 5 others to develop habitats for Mars mission

NASA: NASA has selected Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems and NanoRacks for development of Mars habitats

NASA has asked six US companies to develop concepts for the design of space habitats for future deep space missions including manned missions to Mars. The habitat will help man to survive the hazards of space travel including radiation and other threats which will be encountered during such long journey in deep space.

Jason Crusan, chief of NASA Advanced Exploration Systems said that NASA is embarking on a futuristic and ambitious journey to Mars, and the full potential of the private and government sectors will be used in this endeavor. The next odyssey into deep space will essentially involve Space Launch System and Orion capsules, which are being designed for deep space journeys involving long-duration habitation and in-space propulsion.

The selected corporations include Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems, Boeing and Bigelow Aerospace. The corporations have been given 24 months to develop ground prototypes and conduct concepts for deep space habitats.

The process will cost about $65 million and will finance work in 2016 and 2017. The selected parties will be asked to contribute 30% of the total cost of the project. The ground prototypes will then go through a tough evaluation process which includes testing the different supporting integrated systems, human factors, and operation testing to help define the functioning of the overall system. The tests are crucial for setting design standards, common interfaces and requirements and reducing the risk factors for the final flight which will happen in the end.

The step is a part of a process to involve private commercial investment in the low earth orbit for operational deep space habitation capabilities for missions to the Moon which will be used as a springboard for missions to Mars during the 2020’s.