- Title: NASA eyeing Inflatable space habitats for Moon, Mars and beyond
- Date: 17th October 2019
- Summary: LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, UNITED STATES (RECENT) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF EXTERIOR OF BIGELOW'S B330 CENTER CORE UNIT AND FULL-SCALE SOFTGOODS STRUCTURES ENTREPRENEUR ROBERT BIGELOW STANDING ON STRUCTURE VARIOUS INTERIORS OF STRUCTURE NASA ASTRONAUT MIKE GERNHARDT TALKING TO REPORTERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) NASA ASTRONAUT MIKE GERNHARDT SAYING: "The habitats are candidates for what is called the Gateway, which is a lunar staging ground where we're going to aggregate the lunar vehicles to go to the lunar surface and then maybe in the future aggregate the Mars transit vehicle. So it's sort of a co-orbiting platform and lunar vicinity." VARIOUS INTERIORS OF BIGELOW'S FULL-SCALE NASA GROUND TEST UNIT (SOUNDBITE) (English) NASA ASTRONAUT MIKE GERNHARDT SAYING: "There's a standard core mission that we do in each of the habitats and the whole point is to define what we like and don't like about these different habitats and from that, we will aggregate all the data and come up with recommendations and even requirements for what we actually want to go to flight with." VARIOUS OF INTERIOR ENTREPRENEUR ROBERT BIGELOW TALKING TO REPORTERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENTREPRENEUR ROBERT BIGELOW SAYING: "It is a prelude to going to Mars. And that's why we say pay attention to what President Trump is saying about Mars, because it should be taken seriously. And so Gateway is an opportunity to test all these structures and in a deep space environment, so to speak, even though it's so close to home as a prelude to going to Mars." 30TH SCALE MARTIAN SURFACE MODEL WITH MODEL ASTRONAUTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENTREPRENEUR ROBERT BIGELOW SAYING: "Potentially we think that for the rest of this century, the expandable architecture is where it's at. Not in the aluminum cans." MODEL OF ASTRONAUT MOCKUP OF SPACE COMPLEX BRAVO, WHICH COMPRISES FOUR B330 MODULES, TWO PROPULSION BUSES AND A CREW CAPSULE VARIOUS OF MOCKUP OF OLYMPUS WITH MODELS OF ASTRONAUTS INSIDE VARIOUS OF MOCKUP OF B330 MODULE WITH MODELS OF ASTRONAUTS FLOATING INSIDE
- Embargoed: 31st October 2019 16:57
- Keywords: space NASA inflatable Bigelow Mars moon
- Location: LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, UNITED STATES
- City: LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Science,Space Exploration
- Reuters ID: LVA001B1I3NLZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: When astronauts orbit the moon, or live on its surface in the decade ahead, they will probably be doing so inside inflatable space lodges now in development.
Dozens of NASA officials and veteran astronauts are wrapping up a review of five space habitat mockups built by different companies. The mockups offer the U.S. space agency ideas for an ideal Gateway - the planned research outpost in lunar orbit that will house and transfer astronauts to the surface of the moon.
"The whole point is to define what we like and what we don't like about these different habitats," NASA astronaut Mike Gernhardt, principal investigator for the testing campaign, told Reuters.
He and his team were making a final inspection recently in Las Vegas, Nevada at the headquarters of Bigelow Aerospace, a space habitat company founded by hotel chain billionaire Robert Bigelow.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in March told NASA to land its first crew of astronauts on the moon by 2024. That accelerated timeline spawned the space agency's Artemis program, which calls for privately built lunar landers, robotic rovers and a Lunar Gateway - a modular space station in orbit around the Moon with living quarters for astronauts, a lab for science and research and ports for visiting spacecraft.
"Gateway is an opportunity to test all these structures in a deep space environment... as a prelude to going to Mars," Bigelow told reporters.
"Potentially we think that for the rest of this century, the expandable architecture is where it's at."
Bigelow's B330 habitat, launched from Earth compacted inside a rocket, is made of a fabric-like material designed to shield inhabitants from deep space radiation and high-speed space debris. Once docked alongside other Gateway modules in lunar orbit, the habitat unfurls into two-story, 55-foot-long (16-meter-long) outpost that up to six astronauts could stay in.
The lunar space habitat and colonization program is expected to cost over a billion dollars through 2028.
(Production: Jane Ross/Alan Devall)
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