Human Activities in Space
NASA’s future exploration plans include outposts on the Moon, though many of the details and specifications for these habitats are yet to be determined. According to NASA: “Astronauts will set up a lunar outpost — possibly near a south pole site called Shackleton Crater — where they’ll conduct scientific research, as well as test technologies and techniques for possible exploration of Mars and other destinations.”
An entrepreneurial company, Bigelow Aerospace, is developing an in-space platform based on inflatable technology originally conceived in NASA’s TransHab program. It is building modules that can be used as platforms for in-orbit accommodations, research, and training. Bigelow has launched two prototypes into orbit: Genesis I in July 2006 and Genesis II in June 2007.
The largest in-space platform ever constructed is the International Space Station (ISS). The development of the ISS, led by the United States, “draws upon the scientific and technological resources of 16 nations: the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, 11 nations of the European Space Agency, and Brazil,” according to NASA.[
Surface systems are those systems that operate on the surface of a planet. Current operational surface systems include the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. These robots were launched in June and July 2003, with the purpose of understanding the history of water on Mars.
A privately financed company based in Las Vegas, Nevada, Bigelow Aerospace is licensing technology from NASA to build an inflatable in-space platform that could enable a number of on-orbit applications. Bigelow’s prototype inflatable platform was launched July 12, 2006, aboard a Russian- and Ukrainian-built Dnepr rocket, launched from Russia’s Yasny Launch Base by International Space Company (ISC) Kosmotras.
The largest in-space platform ever constructed is the International Space Station (ISS). “Led by the United States, the ISS draws upon the scientific and technological resources of 16 nations: Canada, Japan, Russia, 11 nations of the European Space Agency [Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom], and Brazil,” according to NASA.