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Lockheed Martin studies deep-space habitat
NextSTEP habitat docked with Orion. © Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin studies deep-space habitat

Lockheed Martin is building a full-scale prototype of a NASA cislunar habitat to identify system requirements for a future Deep Space Gateway.

Lockheed Martin is refurbishing a shuttle-era module used to transfer cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for use as a prototype of a deep space habitat. This prototype will integrate evolving technologies to keep astronauts safe while onboard and operate the spacecraft autonomously when unoccupied.

Under a public-private partnership, NASA recently awarded Lockheed Martin a Phase II contract for the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) habitat study contract. As part of Phase II, the team will continue to refine the design concept developed in Phase I and work with NASA to identify key system requirements for the Deep Space Gateway.

Included in this work, the team will build a full-scale habitat prototype in the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and a next-generation deep space avionics integration lab near Johnson Space Center.

The prototype will be built by refurbishing the Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM). Donatello was one of three large modules, flown in the space shuttle payload bay, that were used to transfer cargo to the International Space Station. The team will also rely heavily on mixed reality prototyping using virtual and augmented reality.

The work will occur over 18 months and will build upon the concept study performed in Phase I. Phase II will also focus on mixed reality and rapid prototyping, and working on concept refinement and risk reduction. The new results will serve to further the understanding of the systems, standards and common interfaces needed to make living in deep space possible.

The Deep Space Avionics Integration Laboratory in Houston will be used to demonstrate command and control between the Deep Space Gateway and Orion. The lab will help reduce risk associated with critical data interfaces between Deep Space Gateway elements and provide an environment for astronauts to train for various mission scenarios.

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