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Constructing Next-Generation Space Habitat Demonstrators
July 16, 2012
 

Habitat Module mockup at Building 4649 at Marshall Space Flight Center.

A mockup of a habitat module inside Building 4649 at Marshall Space Flight Center.

Developing a Deep Space Habitat will allow a crew to live and work safely in space for up to a year on missions to explore cis-lunar space, near-Earth asteroids, and Mars. The Habitation Systems Project is a multi-center team of NASA architects, scientists and engineers, working together to develop sustainable living quarters, workspaces, and laboratories for astronauts on next-generation space missions.

After successfully constructing and field testing the first deep space habitat concept demonstrator – the Habitat Demonstration Unit – the team is building on past success by constructing an ISS-derived Deep Space Habitat Concept Demonstrator. This Concept Demonstrator is being constructed with mockups of modules currently in use on the International Space Station-an ISS Laboratory-sized shell and a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM; flight units were used by the space shuttle to transport equipment to the space station). The Concept Demonstrator is being assembled and outfitted in Building 4649 at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

A concept demonstrator entails outfitting mockup elements with operational systems to allow the evaluation of living and working in the habitat. Mockups are representative, full-size models built for evaluation.

For this evaluation, the notional concept of an ISS-derived Deep Space Habitat (DSH) includes the following elements:

  • an ISS Lab-sized element (ISS Lab/Hab) and a MPLM to provide pressurized volume for working and living space,
  • a Utility Tunnel including an airlock to traverse between elements and allow extravehicular activities, and
  • a Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV) (or a similar small crewed vehicle for short exploration activities).

The full element stack of a Deep Space Habitat mission would also include the following elements which are not included in this demonstrator, since they are not critical to evaluating habitability.

  • an Orion spacecraft (which transports crews to the mission destination), and
  • a Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (a high thrust propulsive stage).

The objectives of the demonstration are to evaluate how the crew interacts with habitat systems and to test mission scenarios.

Approximate end-to-end dimensions of the elements under evaluation in this concept demonstrator (excluding the Cryogenic Propulsion Stage and Orion) are 56 feet long, with a diameter of 16 feet. There will also be remote, interactive testing between this ISS-derived concept demonstrator and systems in the current Habitat Demonstration Unit located at the Johnson Space Center, to maximize benefits of the testing process and reduce redundant development efforts.

Development of Deep Space Habitat technologies is funded by the NASA Advanced Exploration Systems Program.

Concept for the design of the ISS Derived Deep Space Habitat.

Concept for the design of the ISS-Derived Deep Space Habitat.
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Concept image of focus elements for the concept demonstrator evaluation, from left to right: Hab, tunnel, and Multi-Purpose Logistics Module configured as a Deep Space Habitat.

The ISS-derived Deep Space Habitat concept demonstrator evaluation will focus on the following elements, from left to right, Lab/Hab, tunnel, and Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM).
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Building 4649 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Building 4649 at Marshall Space Flight Center where the ISS-derived Deep Space Habitat Concept Demonstrator is being assembled.

Operational layout of Building 4649 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Operational Layout of Building 4649 at Marshall Space Flight Center.
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Habitat Module mockup in Building 4649 at Marshall Space Flight Center.

Hab Module mockup – first element to arrive in Building 4649.

Multi Purpose Logistics Module mockup, prior to delivery to Building 4649.

Multi Purpose Logistics Module mockup, prior to delivery to Building 4649.
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Page Last Updated: August 6th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator