This week Congress directed NASA to build a Deep Space Habitat by 2018 and appropriated $55 million for the initial phase. NASA must report its progress to Congress within 180 days.
As of this date NASA has not yet posted a reaction to this directive on its website. In fact NASAs website doesn’t even list DSH as a topic. Clearly a DSH has not been a priority in the present budget climate.
The phrase “Deep Space” is a little misleading. The habitat is intended to be used in cislunar space, with earth three or four day away in the event of a crisis
NASA did do work on a Deep Space Habitation module (DSH) a few years ago, at least as far back as 2011.The last artists’ drawings NASA released show an ISS-like compartment with areas divided into work, storage, galley, crew quarters and a work area for scientific work. See inset pic.
NASA’s drawings also show an Orion capsule docked at one end. What’s interesting is that the other end of the DSH shows propulsion nozzles. NASA doesn’t comment on the type of propulsion which will be used.
Building a DSH is another small step into the future. The fact that our Congress is willing to spend more money on our space program and take an interest in what’s being accomplished may be the more significant point.
In July, 2015 NASA signed a Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (“NextSTEP”) contract with Bigelow Aerospace to develop the company’s B330 habitat. The B330 can accommodate six, has a length of thirty-one feet and has 330 cubic meters of volume. Units can be joined to create more space.