Deep space habitat prototype being tested at Marshall Space Flight Center

Engineers and technicians explore a deep space habitat ground prototype May 1 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.(Photo: NASA, Boeing)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Engineers and technicians have started exploring a deep space habitat ground prototype built by Boeing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The prototype will undergo testing all summer at Marshall.

NASA is leading the development of a lunar outpost called the Gateway as part of a two-phased approach to exploration on the moon.

In the intitial phase, NASA is working with companies to design, develop and launch a power and propulsion element and a deep space habitat for the outpost. The Boeing Exploration Habitat Demonstrator at Marshall is one of five uniquely designed, deep space habitat prototypes in development through NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, or NextSTEP.

NASA will assess the overall habitation design, with astronauts conducting simulations inside to evaluate the internal layout and ergonomics, to support efficient work-life balance aboard a deep space ship in the testing period.

NASA’s habitat tests are aimed at helping the space agency prepare to buy a U.S.-provided habitation module for the lunar Gateway, the first spacecraft designed to stay in orbit around the moon. The Gateway will let NASA and others pursue new exploration, science and technology demonstrations on and around the moon, and will serve as a stepping stone to Mars.

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