Video: Orbital ATK showcases its Cygnus-derived space habitat concept
After being one of six companies selected last month for NASA’s second Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2), Orbital ATK shed a little more light on its concept for creating a deep space habitat based on the Cygnus cargo spacecraft currently servicing the International Space Station.
NextSTEP-2 is a public-private partnership with the goal of expanding knowledge, commercial capabilities, and opportunities in space by developing full-sized ground prototypes. This is an attempt to use commercial investment with the hope it will ultimately lead to an operational deep space habitat for missions near the Moon, or beyond.
For Orbital ATK, the company chose to take its Cygnus spacecraft design, which has flown to the space station successfully five times, and mature the architecture for a deep space habitat. The video, released on Sept. 26, 2016, showcases a roadmap for building the multi-modular concept using NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion.
The company expects, if built, the station would serve as a destination for crewed missions and be an uncrewed testbed to mature technologies for long-duration flights beyond cislunar space. It could be used by international partners or commercial entities. Eventually, with more habitation and a propulsion module, it could even be sent on a mission to Mars.
Video courtesy of Orbital ATK
Derek Richardson is a student studying mass media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He is currently the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also writes a blog, called Orbital Velocity, about the space station. His passion for space ignited when he watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on Oct. 29, 1998. He saw his first in-person launch on July 8, 2011 when the space shuttle launched for the final time. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized that his true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.