Along with figuring out how to get us there, the minds at NASA are also working on how humans will actually survive once we get to Mars. So ... got any ideas?
Dubbed Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2), the program is designed to request industry proposals for concept studies and technology development projects in the areas of habitation, advanced propulsion and small satellites. NASA notes NextSTEP is a public-private partnership model to develop tech for eventual human spaceflight missions.
The plan is to use these habitation proposals in the cislunar space around the moon, and to eventually enable transit to Mars. By opening up the proposals as part of a partnership model, NextSTEP-2 will hopefully allow NASA to think outside the box, while also supporting private industry commercialization plans for low-Earth orbit (like that nifty blow-up compartment on the ISS).
“NASA is increasingly embracing public-private partnerships to expand capabilities, and opportunities in space,” Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Division, which sponsors NextSTEP, said via NASA. “Our NextSTEP partners commit their own corporate resources toward the development -- making them a true partner in the spaceflight economy.”
Any U.S. companies, universities and non-profit organizations with an idea must submit proposals electronically by 5 p.m. EDT June 15. An intent to present should be provided by May 13. The proposals that are eventually selected will receive funding from NASA to test further viability.
It's great to see NASA looking for a fresh take on space habitation, and considering the budget cuts the agency is facing, maybe a wild idea is just the thing to get it rolling.