For the first time in years, the idea of humans traveling and living beyond Earth is starting to look like a real possibility. This is due in no small part to the efforts of space companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and NASA itself.
Speaking of NASA, the agency announced today that it will be awarding $15 million each ($30 million in total, disbursed over 5 years) to two different Space Technology Research Institutes (STRIs). The Institutes' primary goal will be to create AI-powered, fully-automated space habitats, or "SmartHabs."
The Institutes' primary goal will be to create AI-powered, fully-automated space habitats, or "SmartHabs."
In terms of details regarding how these habitats will function, we have very little to go on, mostly due to how vague NASA's announcement is. That's no surprise though, given that research hasn't even properly begun yet.
What we do know is that the two STRIs will be dubbed the "Habitats Optimized for Missions of Exploration" (HOME) and the Resilient Extraterrestrial Habitats institute (RETHi), respectively. These Institutes will be composed of researchers from universities throughout the US, including the likes of Carnegie Mellon, the University of California, and many others.
The former STRI will focus on creating "deep space habitats" that will combine "proven engineering" with emergent tech to enable "resilient, autonomous, and self-maintained habitats" for human explorers. The latter's goal will be to design habitats that can adapt to expected and unexpected "disruptions."