NASA chooses Falcon Heavy for first segments of lunar gateway – SpaceFlight Insider

An illustration of the Gateway’s Energy and Propulsion Aspect and Habitation and Logistics Outpost in orbit across the Moon. Picture: NASA

In a contract award as a part of NASA’s Artemis program, NASA introduced on Tuesday, February 9, that they’ve awarded the launch contract for preliminary components of the Gateway Lunar Outpost to SpaceX and their Falcon Heavy rocket. With a complete value of $331.eight million for the launch and different mission associated prices, the Hawthorne, California, based mostly firm will make the most of its Falcon Heavy rocket to put each the Energy & Propulsion Aspect (PPE), in addition to the Habitation & Logistics Outpost (HALO) into lunar orbit. The launch will happen no sooner than Could 2024, and can launch from Kennedy House Middle’s historic Launch Advanced 39A.

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches the Arabsat-6A mission from Kennedy House Middle’s LC-39A on April 11, 2019. Picture: Matt Haskell, Spaceflight Insider

Launching as one superstructure, the PPE and HALO shall be built-in on Earth previous to launch. The 2 parts would be the first of the Gateway to be positioned into orbit, awaiting further components to be launched at later dates, in preparations for a sustainable lunar presence.

The station’s HALO module, designed and constructed by Northrop Grumman and derived from their Cygnus spacecraft, will function the U.S. pressurized residing quarters for the outpost, and shall be the place the astronauts conduct their work. HALO will function a docking level for the Orion capsule, and can supply assist for command and management of lunar operations, in addition to assist of science experiments past Low Earth Orbit. HALO additionally serves to complement life assist methods on board Orion, in addition to the Human Touchdown System, and different visiting autos, which can even dock with the module.

The station’s PPE module, constructed by satellite tv for pc producer Maxar Technologies, is a 60-kilowatt class photo voltaic electrical propulsion spacecraft, that may supply the majority of the facility to the outpost. Amongst its capabilities embrace excessive pace communications, angle management, and the potential to relocate to totally different lunar orbits, thus permitting gateway to offer unprecedented entry to the lunar floor.

Sized about one-sixth the dimensions of the Worldwide House Station, the Gateway is designed to function as a rendezvous level for Artemis astronauts in a near-rectilinear orbit of the moon tens of hundreds of miles away from the floor. In contrast to the ISS, the Gateway is designed to solely be occupied half time, for a most of 90 days at a time.

Gateway additionally contains partnerships with the European House Company (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Company (JAXA) offering the Worldwide habitation module, in addition to the Canadian House Company (CSA), who’s contributing a newly designed Canadarm robotic arm. Contracts have additionally been awarded for logistical re-supply of the station, utilizing a modified SpaceX Dragon XL capsule.

Artist’s illustration of Gateway. Constructed with business and worldwide companions, the Gateway is vital to the plans for sustainable lunar exploration and can function a mannequin for future missions to Mars. Picture: NASA


Matt Haskell is a printed aviation and spaceflight photographer and author based mostly in Merritt Island Florida. Born and raised outdoors Edwards Air Pressure Base and NASA’s Armstrong Flight Analysis Middle, he moved to Florida’s House Coast and commenced photographing and reporting spaceflight professionally full time in 2018.


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