NASA picks SpaceX to deliver cargo to the Lunar Gateway
Mar 30 2020
Nasa on Friday picked a new space capsule from Elon Musk's SpaceX to ferry cargo and supplies to the agency's planned lunar space station, a crucial building block to its plans to build a permanent post on the moon and mount future missions to Mars. But NASA is imagining a 15-year Gateway resume program that costs up to $ 7 billion, and more flights are expected as the project matures.
"This is an exciting new chapter for human exploration", said Mark Wiese, Deep Space Logistics manager at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
An artist's impression of a SpaceX Dragon XL cargo ship finally heading to NASA's Gateway space station in orbit around the moon. Gaining new experiences on and around the Moon will prepare NASA to send the first humans to Mars in the coming years, and the Gateway will play a vital role in this process. SpaceX notes that the vehicle will be optimized to carry more than five metric tons of cargo to Gateway in lunar orbit. All told, he should be able to carry enough supplies and equipment to allow the astronauts to stay on Gateway for 60 consecutive days.
NASA chose the SpaceX company as the first supplier of space-based logistics.
"Returning to the moon and supporting future space exploration requires affordable delivery of significant amounts of cargo", said Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, in the same statement.
"Bringing a logistics provider onboard ensures we can transport all the critical supplies we need for the Gateway and on the lunar surface to do research and technology demonstrations in space that we can't do anywhere else".
The Artemis program aims to bring astronauts back to the lunar surface by the end of 2024, a target date set by the Trump administration.
The primary form of crew transportation remains with the Orion spacecraft, which will be launched on NASA's Space Launch System (SLS). NASA included a closing paragraph in its update that noted it's "looking at the parachute testing plan now and all the data we already have to determine next steps", but it does conclude that it's doing so in the interest of "flying the upcoming Demo-2 flight test in the mid-to-late May timeframe".
SpaceX plans to use its Starship spacecraft to deliver robotic landers to the lunar surface. The gate could change lanes and get virtually all lunar landing sites within easy reach.
NASA has plans of returning to the moon, and an essential piece of architecture in that quest is a small space station, dubbed Gateway, that will orbit the moon.
Like the ISS, the Gateway will be an global effort with numerous agencies. The agency initially envisioned landers remotely constructed at Gateway by commercial vendors, but the use of the lunar space station is not mandatory. Each company selected will be guaranteed at least two missions.
"Frankly, had we not done that simplification, I was going to have to cancel Gateway because I couldn't afford it", Loverro said at the meeting.
"When we have the BFHI up there, we will have more (survival) capabilities", he added. Hartman has stated that he expects the IHAB module to reach Gateway in late 2025.
"Of course we are early in this, but when you look at crew food, you look at water, you look at air makeup, gas, we really want to devote a lot to research, including human research, which we can do while he was in it the configuration, he said".