NASA tests Northrop Grumman’s lunar habitat prototype

NASA will probably be able to soon fulfill its plans to put astronauts on to the Moon’s surface. The American space agency and its partner Northrop Grumman have concluded the testings of a lunar remote station model, which may help send humans on the lunar surface.

The deep-space prototype is dubbed Gateway, and it is an essential element of NASA’s Artemis project, which plots to send astronauts on the lunar south pole by the year 2024.

The Gateway could be an orbiting base around the Moon from which astronauts could dive to the Moon’s surface or travel deeper into space.

Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems​ and NASA crew commanders concluded a range of tests of a full-scale ground prototype, which features two habitat units and an airlock, or tunnel. The verification was conducted at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Huston, and it was made as part of Northrop Grumman’s cooperation in the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership-2 (NextSTEP-2) project.

The mock-up is in accordance with Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft, which is utilized to carry supplies to the International Space Station. The model is customized with crew-exercise gear, life-support systems, a toilet, a viewing window, a gallery, science racks, robotics workstations, radiation shelter, and sleeping quarters, as said in a statement by Northrop Grumman.

The Gateway prototype created by Northrop Grumman is constructed for 15 years of missions around the Moon. Moreover, it has the ability to support an Orion crew of four astronauts for long-term missions, as said in the organization’s statement.

The remote base model is one of five habitation mock-ups being worked on through NASA’s NextSTEP-2 project. Other organizations developing and test full-size deep-space bases include Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Lockheed Martin, and Bigelow Aerospace.

In the testing phase of the Gateway prototype, NASA crew commanders envisioned how astronauts could live and work inside the base. The crew also analyzed the design of it, controls and other interfaces, as said in the Northrop Grumman’s report.

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