U.S. Congress wants NASA to build deep space habitat prototype model by 2018; launching by 2030

An artificial living habitat (Hab) on the surface of Mars as depicted in 'The Martian.'(Twentieth Century Fox)

It seems like the U.S. Congress is taking the possibility of human beings living in space seriously.

The American legislature has directed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to build a sufficient prototype model of a deep space habitat no later than 2018.

"NASA shall develop a prototype deep space habitation module within the advanced exploration systems program no later than 2018," a report from Congress stated, as quoted by Space News.

As if giving NASA just two years to develop the deep space habitat was not enough pressure, Congress also required the space agency to report progress in six months' time.

Congress gave NASA sufficient funding—a total of $55 million—to undertake this project.

In an article published by Yahoo! News, NASA International Space Station director Sam Scimemi said the space agency envisions testing these deep space habitats by the late 2020s.

This extensive testing of the space habitat will be done in cislunar space, or the area between the moon and the Earth. Scimemi said a "shaked down cruise," or performance test, will be done to check if the facilities can hold in the harsh conditions in space, and will be enough to support human life outside Earth.

"This idea is our big objective for cislunar space for human spaceflight," Scimemi told Space News.

He said the NASA may be able to launch the outer space habitation facilities by 2030 via human missions to Mars.

At present, NASA is also funding efforts to produce the best types of habitation concepts under a programme called the Next Step Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, or NextSTEP.

The space agency is working with big technological agencies such as Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, and Boeing for this effort.

"We plan to leverage the output of those studies to shape our plan and then go to a next round," Scimemi said.