NASA is actively planning to expand human spaceflight and robotic exploration beyond low Earth orbit. To meet this challenge, a capability driven architecture will be developed to transport explorers to multiple destinations that each have their own unique space environments. Future destinations may include the moon, near Earth asteroids, and Mars and its moons.
NASA is preparing to explore these destinations by first conducting analog missions here on Earth. Analog missions are remote field tests in locations that are identified based on their physical similarities to the extreme space environments of a target mission. NASA engineers and scientists work with representatives from other government agencies, academia and industry to gather requirements and develop the technologies necessary to ensure an efficient, effective and sustainable future for human space exploration.
NASA’s Apollo program successfully conducted analog missions to develop extravehicular activities, surface transportation and geophysics capabilities. Today, analog missions are conducted to validate architecture concepts, conduct technology demonstrations, and gain a deeper understanding of system-wide technical and operational challenges. These analog missions test robotics, vehicles, habitats, communication systems, in-situ resource utilization and human performance as it relates to these technologies.