Nasa has selected new companies to develop exploration technologies for space, as well as for sending human to deepspace destinations.

Selected companies include Ad Astra Rocket, Aerojet Rocketdyne, MSNW, Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Dynetics, Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems International, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Orbital ATK, Orbital Technologies and Morehead State University.

The agency will work with these selected companies to accelerate concept studies and technology development projects covering advanced propulsion, habitation and small satellites.

Nasa human exploration and operations associate administrator William Gerstenmaier said: "Commercial partners were selected for their technical ability to mature key technologies and their commitment to the potential applications both for government and private sector uses.

"This work ultimately will inform the strategy to move human presence further into the solar system."

"This work ultimately will inform the strategy to move human presence further into the solar system."

The projects will facilitate deepspace destinations such as cis-lunar space, and Mars, and determine the role for Orion and Space Launch Systems missions in cis-lunar space.

Under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP), Ad Astra Rocket, Aeroject Rocketdyne and MSNW will develop propulsion systems that generate 50kW to 300kW range.

With no more than a three-year performance period, the projects each will be awarded up to $3.5m a year.

The architecture and subsystems of a modular habitation capability can be defined through habitation systems selection, to enable extended missions in deepspace, Nasa said.

The companies selected for NextSTEP habitat projects will have up to 12 months to study and develop technologies related to habitation and operations and life-support capabilities of a habitation system. They will receive up to $1m for the projects.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Morehead State University will develop CubeSat projects, which will be launched on the first flight of the Space Launch System. These projects will receive grants of up to $7.9m.

Nasa human exploration and operations mission directorate advanced exploration systems division director Jason Crusan said: "This type of public-private partnership helps Nasa stimulate the US space industry, while expanding the frontiers of knowledge, capabilities and opportunities in space."