Lockheed Martin has created a full-sized residential prototype lunar module station Gateway

The American company Lockheed Martin has completed a full-sized prototype of a lunar orbital residential module, which can form the basis for the design and testing of the lunar space station NASA Gateway. To build a full prototype module for Lockheed Martin promised in 2017 in the framework of the joint project NextSTEP (Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships) which the company holds, together with the aerospace Agency. Module plan to test isnapshot, and use to develop new key technologies that will be required for human survival in the near-moon space.

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

The company Lockheed Martin undertook to build one of the residential modules of a future lunar orbital station. The basis for its creation was taken by the multi-purpose logistics module Donatello from the program space Shuttle, which was used mainly for delivering cargo to the ISS.

In the 18 months since the beginning of the program the construction module, called Habitat Ground Test Article (HGTA) has undergone significant upgrades. To accelerate and simplify the work to design and create a prototype residential version of the lunar module, the company used a variety of advanced technologies, ranging from virtual and augmented reality and ending with 3D printing technologies. In addition, the development actively used the experience and technology that were obtained when assembling other spacecraft — OSIRIS-Rex (automatic station for the study of asteroid Bennu) and InSight (lander to study Mars).

As pointed out in Lockheed, HTGTA has been upgraded so that it was possible to make maximum use of the entire volume of the original space module Donatello. Thus, the resulting prototype also became multifunctional: it can be used for scientific missions and research, and as a living module for the crew.

At the moment the module is HTGTA Space center. Kennedy in Florida, where the project team NextSTEP at NASA is going to conduct its assessment. March 25 will start an experiment in which a group of astronauts Agency will live and work inside the module. The project aims not only to check its operating convenience, in the experiment, an impromptu crew will test new docking system that will be used for the station Gateway. After completion of the experiment module will be returned to Lockheed Martin for optimization.

“When you design and direct the build of this high level prototype, we were guided by a variety of potential missions in which it can be used. From the outset, the configuration of our module supports the as lunar orbital and ground-based science missions, and commercial operations – all in order to quickly pave the way to the moon,” commented the NextSTEP program Manager at Lockheed Martin Space bill Pratt.

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