NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) as the contractor to launch the first two space modules needed to build the Gateway lunar station. The agency announced this on its website. The contract amount with SpaceX is $ 331.8 million.
The two modules are slated to be launched no earlier than May 2024 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, after they are assembled on Earth. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy with a payload of about 64 tons will be used as the launch vehicle.
The American space agency explained that we are talking about the PPE (Power and Propulsion Element) and HALO (Habitation and Logistics Outpost) modules. The first is a spacecraft powered by a solar electric propulsion system. Its task will be to provide the Gateway station with electricity and communications. In addition, the module will be equipped with an orbit correction system, with which it will be possible to change the position of the lunar station.
The second module is equipped with living quarters in which astronauts will work. It will also be used as a mission control center for sorties to the lunar surface and will serve as a docking station. The module will be used to conduct scientific research, provide communications for ships and expeditions, and in addition, serve as a supplement to the life support system of the Orion spacecraft, on which astronauts will get to the Gateway station.
The HALO module is designed and built by Northrop Grumman, while the PPE module is designed and built by Maxar Technologies.
The Gateway lunar station will be created as part of the Artemis program, which NASA announced in 2019. The purpose of the program is to study the lunar surface and further use the knowledge gained for manned missions to Mars.
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