"We would use the lunar habitat to prove out the technology to serve as a baseline for habitats for future deep space missions beyond the Moon," Hauf tells CNBC Make It. "Everything for the NextSTEP contract is to validate technologies to eventually go to Mars. Cislunar, or anything around the Moon, is a perfect proving ground because it still has the challenges of communications delays and radiation that aren't the case with low-Earth orbit.
"Also, with a sustained presence at the Moon, that will be used as a stop for longer duration missions. We like to call it a 'space port' — like an airport — for other destinations," she says.
Living in space requires special technologies for everyday activities.
"It is easy to take things for granted when you are living at home," said Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin's NextSTEP program manager, in a written statement released in July announcing the development of the prototype. "Something as simple as calling your family is completely different when you are outside of low Earth orbit.
"While building this habitat, we have to operate in a different mindset that's more akin to long trips to Mars to ensure we keep them safe, healthy and productive."
The deep space habitat has specific regions to accommodate particular needs of the astronauts.
"There is storage for food and other living essentials, a crew sleeping area, a robotic workstation, a fitness area (on the ceiling) as well as an area for other science experiments. Also, since this is a deep space habitat radiation shielding is critical compared to other low-Earth orbit systems, so some of the storage would be dual purpose to protect against radiation," Hauf tells CNBC Make It.
Here are photos of the Lockheed Martin deep space module being constructed in the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida.