It's no secret that NASA is investing in long-duration exploration missions. The agency just completed a one-year human mission on the International Space Station, where Scott Kelly wowed the world with his social media posts and his ability to save zinnias on the verge of succumbing to space mold. But getting into deep space takes time -- a lot of time and discussion -- and NASA has many projects that are supposed to help it explore the moon and Mars in the coming decades.
One of those projects is creating a habitat that will allow humans to live in space beyond the Earth-moon system. This isn't as easy as it seems, because there are a lot of things you need to consider once you get far out from Earth. If there is a time delay in communications, how will humans work without constant support from Mission Control? How to manage for problems such as radiation, or needing to repair spare parts? These are all things the agency must think about.
A new solicitation asks interested parties to outline their ideas for deep-space habitation concepts. Proposals were due in on June 15, and the projects awarded will be publicized on the website for NextSTEP (Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships). These are some of the areas NASA is thinking about.
Image: NASA's phases of Mars exploration. Credit: NASA