- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Madison-based aerospace engineering company will be part of a contract its parent company secured to develop a prototype living environment for astronauts traveling to Mars and elsewhere in space.

Orbital Technologies Corp., or Orbitec, will join the contract with Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corp., The Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/2aO9e1K ) reported.

Sierra Nevada is one of six U.S. companies announced Wednesday for the project with NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2, a program designed to advance human flight missions in the area of space near the moon.

Sierra Nevada will develop living quarters for astronauts that will be based on the company’s Dream Chaser spacecraft’s cargo module, which is being developed for NASA’s cargo supply missions to the International Space Station.

The project will include rocket thruster systems and life support systems such as heat, humidity and oxygen production. Orbitec specializes in both of those technologies.

“Orbitec’s strong knowledge of environmental control and BioProduction systems will be crucial in creating a viable long-term habitat and will help overcome sustainability obstacles,” Sierra Nevada officials said in a statement.

Orbitec business director Paul Zamprelli said the company plans to hire 30 more engineers to its staff of 120 employees by the end of the year as a result of this contract and others.

Zamprelli said the company is pleased to have a major role in the program.

“Orbitec has been spending over 28 years of its existence in developing state-of-the-art life support systems for just this application,” he said.

Other companies awarded contracts through the NextSTEP-2 program include Bigelow Aerospace, of North Las Vegas, Nevada; Lockheed Martin, Denver; Orbital ATK, Dulles, Virginia; NanoRacks, of Webster, Texas; Boeing of Houston.

The contract is for two years, and the monetary value of the agreement wasn’t announced.

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Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, https://www.madison.com/wsj


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