Since 2012, numerous iterations of large lunar and Mars transport habitats have been conceived in previous studies to be launched with the upcoming Space Launch System (SLS), and are intended to also be compatible with the Orion capsule. Variations of the designs would be used for the Lunar Gateway and the Deep Space Transport.
Early preliminary concepts considered 60-day and 500-day mission configurations, composed of International Space Station-derived hardware, the Orion crew capsule and various support craft. The habitat would be equipped with at least one International Docking System Standard (IDSS) docking system. Developing a deep space habitat would allow a crew to live and work safely in space for about one year on missions to explore cislunar space, Mars, and some near-Earth asteroids.
In 2015 NASA funded studies for several types of deep space habitat concepts under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP). Lockheed Martin, the main contractor of the Orion capsule, has also produced in 2018 a Deep Space Habitat concept. These concept studies will help NASA decide on a final design for the habitat element for the Lunar Gateway with a contract potentially to be awarded in fiscal year 2019.
ISS-derived Deep Space Habitat HAB/MPLM
ISS-derived Deep Space Habitat MPLM/Node1
MPLM stands for Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
- 60 Day Mission - The basic 60-day mission variant would consist of a Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (CPS), ISS Destiny-derived lab module, and an airlock/tunnel. In addition, a mission-specific support craft, such as the FlexCraft or the Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV) would be docked to the airlock/tunnel. The Destiny-derived lab houses both the crew quarters and the ECLSS components.
- 500 Day Mission - The 500 Day mission variant would consist of the same 60-day crew habitat and crew size. Mass increases would result from the addition of a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) to provide additional supply storage for the extended mission duration. It would be 8 m long and 4.5 m in diameter.
- 60 Day Mission - The basic vehicle elements for this configuration would include a CPS, a MPLM, Utility tunnel/airlock, Node 4 Structural Test Article. The Node element would allow for the attachment of more than one FlexCraft or Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV). The Habitat would be crew serviceable at the front of the Node element opposite the tunnel.
- 500 Day Mission - This 500-day mission variant would have a second MPLM attached to the front on the vehicle as well as add a Cupola to the Node section.