Congress has insisted that NASA create a prototype deep space habitation module by no later than 2018.
Progress towards a manned mission to Mars may see some acceleration over the next couple of years thanks to the US government’s decision to increase funding to NASA by $1.3 billion to help support the development of a habitation module for use in future deep space missions.
Back in mid-December NASA’s ISS director Sam Scimemi put forward plans to begin testing such a module by the mid-2020s, but now this will have to be brought forward after Congress demanded that it all had to be done – including the building of a prototype – within the next two years.
One of the most critical parts of a future mission to Mars, the module will need to be able to keep astronauts alive and comfortable during long-haul space voyages.
Initial testing is likely to take place in orbit around the Earth with astronauts living on the module to determine its viability long before any actual deep space missions take place.
“We’re thrilled that Congress took the lead,” said Bigelow Aerospace D.C. operations and business growth director Mike Gold. “It is the missing piece of the human space exploration puzzle.”
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