Lockheed Martin to Develop Habitat for Deep Space Gateway
Kagan Pittman posted on July 21, 2017 | 1968 views
Lockheed Martin artist rendering of the NextSTEP habitat docked with Orion in cislunar orbit as part of a concept for the Deep Space Gateway.
Lockheed Martin artist rendering of the NextSTEP habitat docked with Orion in cislunar orbit as part of a concept for the Deep Space Gateway.

Lockheed Martin is prototyping a deep space habitat for NASA at their Kennedy Space Center by refurbishing a shuttle-era cargo container.

Lockheed Martin will be working with NASA to further develop the project’s Phase I concept and identify key system requirements for the Deep Space Gateway, a new spaceport destined for lunar orbit. Under the Phase II contract for the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP), Lockheed Martin will help NASA develop the habitat that will integrate new technologies to keep astronauts safe as well as operate the spacecraft autonomously when unoccupied.

“Because the Deep Space Gateway would be uninhabited for several months at a time, it has to be rugged, reliable and have the robotic capabilities to operate autonomously,” said Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin NextSTEP program manager. “Essentially, it is a robotic spacecraft that is well-suited for humans when Orion is present.”

The Orion spacecraft will serve as the NextSTEP habitat’s command deck during early missions, providing critical communications, life support and navigation to guide long-duration missions.

The Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), which is used to transfer cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), will be refurbished to build the habitat’s full-scale prototype. The team will rely on mixed reality prototyping using virtual and augmented reality to identify issues quickly, reducing cost and saving schedule time.

Pratt points out the recently selected astronauts for the project will face unique challenges, due to the distance from Earth: “Something as simple as calling your family is completely different when you are outside of low Earth orbit. While building this habitat, we must operate in a different mindset that’s more akin to long trips to Mars to ensure we keep them safe, healthy and productive.”

The Orion spacecraft will provide a safe and practical approach for the incremental build-up of deep space exploration capabilities as the Deep Space Gateway’s command deck.

Lockheed Martin will also build a Deep Space Avionics Integration Laboratory in Houston to demonstrate command and control between the 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.

For more information, visit the Lockheed Martin and NASA websites.

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