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These are NASA’s aerospace partners for its deep space habitats

Earlier this year, the space organization sought ideas from private industry about designing future deep space habitats that astronauts would need to survive on long space journeys, such as those to Mars and beyond. It has now announced the six partners it is choosing for its Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program “to help expand knowledge, commercial capabilities, and opportunities in space” by developing full-scale ground-based prototypes that could one day be used in deep space. The partners are:

• Bigelow Aerospace of North Las Vegas 

• Boeing of Houston

• Lockheed Martin of Denver 

• Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia

• Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems of Louisville, Colorado

• NanoRacks of Webster, Texas

NASA says the ground prototypes will allow it to evaluate “configurations of the habitat, how the various systems interact together and with other capabilities like propulsion modules and airlocks, and will provide platforms to test and ensure the standards and common interfaces being considered are well thought out.”

[Image:  Lockheed Martin]MG