NASA's Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) crew has reached the mid-way point in the 14th annual Desert RATS mission, conducted at Black Point Lava Flow in the Arizona desert. On Aug. 30, the crew consisting of engineers, astronauts, scientists, and technicians from across NASA and throughout industry and academia began integrated mission simulations to evaluate different conditions that will enable human and robotic exploration of an asteroid.
So far, much of the testing has focused on crew operations inside of the Deep Space Habitat (DSH). For three nights each, Crew A and Crew B slept overnight in the DSH to test independent crew operations and the habitability of the xHab Loft and Hygiene Module. Testing these elements is crucial for understanding what logistics and living quarter’s humans will need during deep-space exploration missions.
The Desert RATS crew has also successfully tested communication links through the European Science and Technology Centre (ESTEC). With primary science backroom support from mission control in Houston, the ESTEC provided secondary science backroom operations support from the Netherlands.