AÂ team comprised of NanoRacks, Space Systems Loral and United Launch AllianceÂ will study the feasibility of convertingÂ rocket upper stages into habitats for low-Earth orbit and deep-space missions under a contract awarded by NASA.
The Ixion Initiative TeamÂ aims to help NASA address risks associated withÂ modules that are builtÂ on the ground and launched into orbitÂ through the agency’sÂ Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2Â program, SSL said Friday.
NanoRack’sÂ team proposed to convertÂ aÂ Centaur rocket upper stage into a habitat for integration withÂ the International Space Station to serve as proving groundÂ for commercial LEOÂ applications.
TheÂ team also anticipatesÂ deep space use for itsÂ concept to create habitats out ofÂ upper stages from future rockets such as the Space Launch System toÂ aidÂ human exploration missions to the moon, Mars and beyond, SSL added.
SSL noted theÂ transformation ofÂ rocket upper stages into habitats wasÂ first demonstrated by former NASA engineerÂ Wernher von Braun for the SkyLab space station.