From NASA Lunar Gateway The design process of the space station is beginning to take shape: the agency has announced five new prototypes that it plans to test on the ground.
These habitats are not really designs for use on the Moon, but they are more for NASA to know the interfaces, requirements and design standards for a future habitat module for US astronauts. UU., The agency said. The catwalk would provide a base in orbit around the moon from which astronauts could descend to the lunar surface or go farther into space.
"These tests were formulated so that we can make a side-by-side comparison of very different and innovative concepts from the US industry," Marshall Smith, who directs human lunar exploration programs at NASA headquarters in Washington, said in a statement from NASA. "While we will not dictate a specific design when we get the US habitat, we will enter the acquisition phase with much less risk due to the knowledge we get from these tests."
This news comes a few weeks after NASA announced that, following a directive from the Trump administration, it would point to Astronauts from Earth on the Moon in 2024. NASA is planning that the Portal be ready in the 2020s for the human habitation.
Scroll through the concepts of the five companies below, plus a study of company concepts NanoRacks:
Testing at the NASA Kennedy Space Center: Lockheed built a Multipurpose Logistics Module (MPLM) originally intended for the International Space Station. This MPLM will support NASA Spacecraft orion (which will transport astronauts to and from the Gateway) and includes a space that can be changed for different types of missions.
Testing at the Johnson Space Center at NASA, Texas: Northrop is using a design that will take advantage of its Cygnus spaceship, which sends cargo to the International Space Station. This particular module can be changed in different ways, and it focuses on a "comfortable and efficient living environment" for astronauts, NASA officials said.
Testing at the Marshall Space Flight Center at NASA, Alabama: Boeing is used to building space stations, since the company is the main contractor for the International Space Station and has developed multiple elements in the orbital complex. The company will use this "heritage" knowledge in its own module, which includes some areas that can be isolated for payloads that must be operated in different cabin atmospheres. Boeing also plans to optimize the available volume, although the statement did not specify how.
Sierra Nevada Corp.
Testing at the Johnson Space Center at NASA, Texas: Sierra Nevada is responsible for the Dream Hunter who will eventually participate in the cargo races of the space station. This space station module that you are presenting is a large inflatable tissue environment (LIFE) habitat that is supposed to be launched folded and then inflated in space. Inflatable structures tend to have more habitable space than traditional rigid structures, because the rigid type is limited in size by the rocket used to launch it. Thus, LIFE will have three large simulated living room floors.
Testing in Bigelow Aerospace, Nevada: Bigelow will demonstrate an expandable module called the B330 prototype. The module provides 330 cubic meters (approximately 11,600 cubic feet) of living space. Bigelow previously sent a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) to the space station, where he successfully completed a two-year test mission. His time at the station was extended so that astronauts can use it as a storage unit.
Concept study: To accommodate the astronauts, NanoRacks plans to use a pressurized and used rocket propellant tank. The fuel will be expelled when the tank is exposed to space, and then the module will be reused for the human room. NanoRacks has already completed a feasibility study and is now working on large-scale prototypes that would partly use robotics to make the tank a living space for astronauts. Currently, NanoRacks provides commercial space on the space station for companies, organizations or individuals to perform experiments or implement payloads.