Last year NASA chose six United States companies to develop deep space habitat prototypes as part of the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) study, demonstrating where astronauts might live and work.
Lockheed engineers are using the Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), an old space shuttle cargo container that was once used to send supplies to the International Space Station.
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"We are excited to work with NASA to repurpose a historic piece of flight hardware", said Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin's program manager for the deep space habitat contract, in a statement. The company will also rely on mixed reality (combination of augmented and virtual reality) to speed up design and construction, and reduce costs by identifying the problem areas. Orion will act as the command deck for the habitat, offering life support, communications, and navigation.
"Because the Deep Space Gateway would be uninhabited for several months at a time, it has to be rugged, reliable and has the robotic capabilities to operate autonomously", Pratt added. They'll work on the project over 18 months, building on their work in Phase I.
The Deep Space Gateway will receive crews from NASA's Orion spacecraft also in development with Lockheed Martin. "Essentially it is a robotic spacecraft that is well-suited for humans when Orion is present".
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