A team composed of NanoRacks, Space Systems Loral and United Launch Alliance has signed an agreement with NASA to examine the feasibility of converting a rocket upper stage into a commercial space habitat.
The Ixion Initiative Team will conduct the rocket technology repurposing study under the second phase of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships initiative, SSL said Wednesday.
NanoRacks is one of six companies that secured contracts worth a combined $65 million in August 2016 to help the agency research concepts and develop ground prototypes for deep-space habitats through NextSTEP-2.
SSL aims to explore the potential use of robotic solar electric propulsion technologies to help the team carry out the project as well as examine how a commercial habitat can be utilized to assemble and manufacture an orbital satellite.
Richard White, president of SSL’s government systems business, said the company always looks for new approaches to innovate and apply technologies.
“Now that we are under contract, we can begin exploring the benefits of reusability and how our robotics and propulsion systems can contribute to next-generation space habitats,” White added.