Futurizonte Editor’s Note: Mars missions ara taking shape. Perhaps we will see a human trip to Mars in the next few years or decades.
Original author and publication date: Milly Vincent – October 18, 2019
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.
This week dozens of NASA officials and veteran astronauts are wrapping up a review of five space habitat mockups built by different companies, after spending three days living in each of them.
Inflatable equipment has an advantage because it can be packed down and sent up to space inside a rocket, then built to its full size when it gets to its destination.
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.
NASA astronaut Mike Gernhardt, principal investigator for the testing campaign said: ‘The whole point is to define what we like and what we don´t like about these different habitats.’
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 Lunar Gateway – a modular space station in orbit around the Moon with living quarters for astronauts, a lab for science and ports for visiting spacecraft.
Robert Bigelow said: ‘Gateway is an opportunity to test all these structures in a deep space environment… as a prelude to going to Mars.
‘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.