Lockheed Martin Is Building NASA Cislunar Habitat Prototype Using Mixed Reality
Andrew Wheeler posted on August 10, 2017 | 3435 views

Lockheed Martin was recently chosen by NASA to build a full-scale habitat prototype through a Phase II contract for the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP).

The NextSTEP program is a public-private partnership model setup by NASA that, according to the agency’s website, “seeks commercial development of deep space exploration capabilities to support more extensive human spaceflight missions in the Proving Ground around and beyond cislunar (between the Earth and the moon) space—the space near Earth that extends just beyond the moon.”

The work will be performed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the design will be based on the Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM).

Lockheed Martin recently received a NASA contract to redesign the Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module as seen here at the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in 2004. Donatello has never been deployed on cargo runs to the International Space Station (ISS). (Image courtesy of NASA.)
Lockheed Martin recently received a NASA contract to redesign the Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module as seen here at the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in 2004. Donatello has never been deployed on cargo runs to the International Space Station (ISS). (Image courtesy of NASA.)

The Donatello MPLM measures about 22 feet in length and 15 feet in diameter. The hope is that the prototype will serve as an example for NASA’s planned Deep Space Gateway, a cislunar habitat that will house Deep Space Transport, which is an interplanetary spacecraft with a NASA crew of astronauts who could make trips to the moons and surfaces of Mars. At least that’s the theory.

The Deep Space Gateway will act as a dock, and the Deep Space Transport will be the housing for maintenance of the interplanetary spacecraft. The Deep Space Gateway is supposed to be completed sometime in the 2020s. The prototype that Lockheed Martin is building is another step toward accomplishing this lofty goal of making different interplanetary potentialities accessible.

Lockheed Martin continues to design and manufacture complex spacecraft and satellites, and will be basing its new full-scale habitat prototype on its experience of building the Orion spacecraft—another project for deep space missions and goals.

Designing Prototype Uses Mixed Reality

Lockheed Martin publicly said that it will be using a combination of mixed reality, rapid prototyping and virtual prototyping to create every aspect of the module. But what mixed reality or augmented reality technology will the company be using exactly?

Although one could make a guess and say that Lockheed Martin will be using Microsoft HoloLens, since it is known to use the technology internally for training and educational purposes, the company hasn’t specified which technology it will be using.

When the details become clearer, we’ll update this article.


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