Aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin announced Tuesday that it received approval to use repurposed space shuttle parts to build a habitat for a potential manned mission to Mars.
The habitat will house astronauts for extended periods of time as they live and work. NASA estimates that a manned Mars mission would take between one and three years to carry out.
“It is easy to take things for granted when you are living at home, but the recently selected astronauts will face unique challenges,” Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin’s program manager, said in a press release.
“Something as simple as calling your family is completely different when you are outside of low Earth orbit. While building this habitat, we have to operate in a different mindset that’s more akin to long trips to Mars to ensure we keep them safe, healthy and productive,” Pratt said.
NASA has spent $1.2 million on dome studies and plans to conduct three similar experiments in the near future.
Lockheed already has plans to build NASA a large manned space station in orbit above Mars by 2028. If built, the station will remotely operate rovers, analyze samples off dirt and rock and even make short trips to Mars’ two moons.
NASA currently plans to send real astronauts to Mars around 2030. The total costs of current plans to send Americans to Mars comes out to roughly $35 billion spent by 2025. America is currently better prepared to visit Mars than it was to visit the Moon in the 1960s, according to a study by NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
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