NASA aims for development of habitat modules for deep space use
NASA recently spent $65 million to begin preparing and testing deep-space habitats that may be used on Mars.
As a part of the NEXTStep program, under NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems, the money was awarded to 6 companies for development and testing. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada, Orbital ATK, NanoRacks, and Bigelow are all working on their own development of habitats.
Currently the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module was recently attached to the International Space Station (ISS) and the company has plan to develop a larger model, which they call the Expandable Bigelow Advanced Station Enhancement (XBASE). Currently the smaller version is being tested on the ISS.
NanoRacks project recently was adapted or use outside the ISS. NanoRacks, wants to convert the final rocket stage with its fuel compartment into a habitable space. Currently they are working with Space Systems Loral and the United Launch Alliance.
There aren’t any exact figures or dates that were made available, however, we can safely say that NASA is trying to come back and in a big way. If the habitat modules are developed and are ready to use we might see bases on the Moon as well as Mars, well that’s just the start.