Lockheed Martin has refurbished an ISS shuttle-era cargo container into a prototype deep space habitat as part of a NASA Phase II research program.
The prototype is said to integrate evolving technologies to keep astronauts safe while onboard and operate the spacecraft autonomously when unoccupied.
As part of Phase II, the Lockheed team will continue to refine the design concept developed in Phase I and work with NASA to identify key system requirements for the Deep Space Gateway.
The program includes a full-scale habitat prototype in the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and a next-generation deep space avionics integration lab near Johnson Space Center.
“It is easy to take things for granted when you are living at home, but the recently selected astronauts will face unique challenges,” said Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin NextSTEP program manager. “Something as simple as calling your family is completely different when you are outside of low Earth orbit. While building this habitat, we have to operate in a different mindset that’s more akin to long trips to Mars to ensure we keep them safe, healthy and productive.”
A full-scale prototype of the deep space habitat will be built by refurbishing the Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM). Donatello was one of three large modules, flown in the space shuttle payload bay, that were used to transfer cargo to the International Space Station.
The team will rely heavily on mixed reality prototyping using virtual and augmented reality. Through this approach, the team can reduce cost and schedule, as well as identify and solve issues early in the design phase.
Lockheed Martin will also build a Deep Space Avionics Integration Laboratory in Houston to demonstrate command and control between the Deep Space 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.
Image and content: Lockheed Martin