Lockheed Martin has created a full-sized prototype of the accommodation module lunar Gateway Station

The American company Lockheed Martin has completed the creation of a full-size prototype of a lunar orbital module housing, which can form the basis for the design and testing of lunar orbit NASA Gateway station. Lockheed Martin to build a complete unit prototype has promised more in 2017 as a joint project NextSTEP (Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships), which holds the company together with the space agency. Module plan to check for liveability, but also be used for the development of new key technologies that will be needed for human survival in space near the moon.

Lockheed Martin has created a full-sized prototype of the accommodation module lunar Gateway Station

Space stations in one form or another mankind has learned to create even in the 70s, but they were used only in low-Earth orbit. But it is quite another thing - to build a station near the moon than the actual NASA planned to do in the near future with the support of other space agencies and private companies. Gateway should be the springboard humanity into deep space. And the start of its construction is planned for the beginning of the 2020s.

The company Lockheed Martin has undertaken to build one of the residential units for future lunar orbital station. As the basis for its establishment was taken Donatello multipurpose logistics module from the program space shuttle, which was mainly used for the delivery of cargo to the ISS.

Lockheed Martin has created a full-sized prototype of the accommodation module lunar Gateway Station

In the 18 months since the start of the program the construction of the module, called Habitat Ground Test Article (HGTA), has undergone significant modernization. To accelerate and simplify the design work and the creation of a prototype version of the residential unit in near-moon has used a variety of advanced technologies, ranging from virtual and augmented reality technologies and ending with 3D-printing. In addition, the development is actively used the experience and technologies that were obtained by the assembly of other spacecraft - OSIRIS-Rex (automatic station for the study of the asteroid Bennu) and InSight (lander for Mars exploration).

As pointed out in Lockheed, HTGTA has been upgraded so that you can make maximum use of the entire volume of the original space Donatello module. Thus, the resulting prototype also get multi-function: it can be used for scientific missions and research, and as a residential unit for the crew.

Currently HTGTA module is in the Space Center. Kennedy in Florida, where NextSTEP project team from NASA is going to spend his assessment. March 25 will begin an experiment in which a group of astronauts agency will live and work inside the module. The project aims not only to check the convenience of its use, in the course of the experiment improvised crew will test new docking system, which is planned to be used in the Gateway station. After completion of the experiment module is scheduled to return back to Lockheed Martin for optimization.

"In the design and direct the assembly of high quality prototype, we were guided by the variety of potential missions in which it can be used. From the start of our configuration module supports the holding as a near-moon orbit and terrestrial scientific missions, as well as commercial operations - all in order to quickly pave the way to the Moon, "- commented NextSTEP program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Bill Pratt.

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