NASA envisions inflatable space lodges for astronauts who will orbit the moon or live on its surface in the decade to come. Currently, in the development stage, dozens of NASA officials and veteran astronauts are winding up a review of five space habitat models built by different companies. The mockups propose the U.S. space agency designs for an ideal Gateway – the planned research station in lunar orbit that will accommodate and transfer astronauts to the surface of the moon.
“The entire point is to define what we like and what we don’t like about these diverse habitats,” NASA astronaut Mike Gernhardt, the principal explorer for the testing campaign, told Reuters.
He and his team were making a concluding inspection lately in Las Vegas, Nevada at the head office of Bigelow Aerospace, a space habitat company established by hotel chain billionaire Robert Bigelow.
In March, US Vice President Mike Pence told NASA to land its first group of astronauts on the moon by 2024. That speeded up timeline produced the space agency’s Artemis program, which requires robotic rovers, privately built lunar landers, and Lunar Gateway — a modular space station in orbit around the Moon with living housings for astronauts, a lab for ports and science for visiting spacecraft.”Gateway is a chance to test all these constructions in a deep space environment… as a run-up to going to Mars,” Bigelow told reporters. “Possibly we think that for the rest of this century, the expandable structural design is where it’s at.”
Bigelow’s B330 habitat propelled from Earth condensed inside a rocket, is built of a fabric-like material designed to protect inhabitants from high-speed space debris and deep-space radiation. Once landed alongside other Gateway modules in lunar orbit, the habitat unfolds into a two-story, 55-foot-long outpost that can accommodate six astronauts.
The lunar space habitat and colonisation program is estimated to cost over a billion dollars through 2028.
Four other companies are doing mockups: Northrop Grumman, Boeing Co, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Lockheed Martin.
Separately every company received an amount of the $65 million that NASA apportioned in 2017 to make the prototypes. The space agency’s offered funding for 2020 includes $500 million to begin the development of the first version of Gateway. Companies are presenting ideas to NASA — such as how big the beds should be, where to place astronaut toilets, and how many windows the station should have. Those will update an outline that NASA is expected to release in the upcoming months.
NASA wants the habitats to include a small kitchen, exercise equipment, noise-canceling sleep stations that also obstruct light and “an easy-to-use and reliable toilet that’s in a position that minimises the possibility for cross-contamination with meal preparation activities and science,” Gernhardt informed us.
YOU MAY LIKE: New Spacesuit Unveiled By NASA For The Next Moon Landing
Gernhardt, along with two other astronauts spent three days living in each prototype habitat.
For the Gateway habitat mockup, Lockheed Martin is equipping tables, beds and windows in a 15-foot-wide and approximately 22-foot-long stainless steel structure initially designed as a shipping container to move materials to and from the International Space Station.
“The place that you’re living in has to be reconfigurable for the mission at hand,” said Bill Pratt, Lockheed’s habitat program manager. “Similar to an RV, your table converts to a bed that you sleep on at night.”
Bigelow said his B330 habitat has two toilets for a group of up to six to use, and that entertainment in the appearance of virtual-reality Earth simulations for astronauts to feel at home was in progress for future habitats that will orbit Mars.