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Advanced Exploration Systems Division

NextSTEP-2 Habitation

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

NextSTEP-2 Habitation

Through the public-private partnerships enabled by the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships - 2 (NextSTEP-2) Broad Agency Announcement, NASA has selected six U.S. companies to help advance the Journey to Mars by developing ground prototypes and concepts for a deep space habitat around the Moon.  These companies are: 

  • Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas, NV
  • Boeing of Pasadena, TX
  • Lockheed Martin of Denver, CO
  • Orbital ATK of Dulles, VA
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems of Louisville, CO
  • NanoRacks of Webster, TX

This round of NextSTEP selections are part of a phased approach that will catalyze commercial investment in low-Earth orbit and lead to an operational deep space habitation capability for missions in the area of space near the moon, which will serve as the proving ground for Mars during the 2020s. These missions will demonstrate human, robotic and spacecraft operations in a true deep space environment that’s still relatively close to Earth and validate technologies for the longer journey to Mars.

The ground prototypes will be used for three primary purposes: supporting integrated systems testing, human factors and operations testing, and to help define overall system functionality. These are important activities as they help define the design standards, common interfaces, and requirements while reducing risks for the final flight systems that will come after this phase.

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