An omnibus spending bill passed by Congress this month directs NASA to accelerate work on a habitation module that could be used for future deep space missions, although how NASA will implement that direction is unclear.
The report accompanying the fiscal year 2016 omnibus appropriations bill instructs NASA to spend at least $55 million on a “habitation augmentation module” to support the agency’s exploration efforts. The money would come from the Advanced Exploration Systems program, part of the Exploration Research and Development line item in the budget that received $350 million in the bill.
“NASA shall develop a prototype deep space habitation module within the advanced exploration systems program no later than 2018,” the report states. It also requires NASA to provide Congress with a report within 180 days of the bill’s enactment on the status of the program and how it has spent the funds provided.