NASA Funding Two Additional Space Habitat Research Institutes

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NASA will allocate up to $15 million for each of the two new Space Technology Research Institutes to aid studies for sustaining human presence on the Moon and Mars, the agency said on Tuesday. The university-led and multidisciplinary “smart habitat” institutes will support other NASA research initiatives and receive funding from the Space Technology Mission Directorate over a five-year period. 

The Habitats Optimized for Missions of Exploration institute intends to study self-maintained and resilient habitation implementing emerging technologies and concepts like machine learning, data science, robotic maintenance, autonomous collaboration and onboard manufacturing. Industry representatives from firms like Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada Corp. form part of a team that manages HOME. 

The second habitat is called Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats institute and will focus on using hybrid simulation, modular and autonomous robotics technology to design and operate human dwellings in deep space. RETHi intends to mature technologies supporting deep space habitats with the capacity for crewed and uncrewed functionalities.

NASA established two prior STRIs in 2017, namely the Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design and the Center for the Utilization of Biological Engineering in Space.

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