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NASA has selected six U.S. firms to develop technology which will allow a manned journey to Mars.
In a statement released Tuesday, the space agency announced a program that would use a mix of public and private money to help develop deep space travel.
"NASA is on an ambitious expansion of human spaceflight, including the journey to Mars, and we're utilizing the innovation, skill and knowledge of both the government and private sectors," said Jason Crusan, director of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems.
The main task will be to build "habitation systems" which NASA said will allow a safe environment for humans to live as they travel to Mars.
The six selected companies helping NASA develop the Mars mission are:
In the release NASA said the firms have approximately two years to develop concept studies with a combined initial contract cost of around $65 million.
The selected partners are required to contribute at least 30 percent of the initial contract cost.
NASA expects an operational deep space habitat to be developed by the 2020s when the agency is expecting to undertake testing in an area of space near the moon.