NASA announced this week it has tabbed SpaceX to send sections of the Gateway lunar outpost into space, which will serve as a lunar space station for astronauts coming from and going to the moon.
The Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) are said to be foundation of the Gateway, which be one-sixth the size of the International Space Station once completed.
“The PPE is a 60-kilowatt class solar electric propulsion spacecraft that also will provide power, high-speed communications, attitude control, and the capability to move the Gateway to different lunar orbits, providing more access to the Moon’s surface than ever before.” NASA said. “The HALO is the pressurized living quarters where astronauts who visit the Gateway, often on their way to the Moon, will work. It will provide command and control and serve as the docking hub for the outpost. HALO will support science investigations, distribute power, provide communications for visiting vehicles and lunar surface expeditions, and supplement the life support systems aboard Orion, NASA’s spacecraft that will deliver Artemis astronauts to the Gateway.”
The mission is scheduled to launch no early than May 2024, NASA said. NASA will use SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket to send to circle the moon. The total cast of the launch is expected to be $331 million, NASA said.
NASA said it intends to return mankind to the moon this decade, first by placing astronauts in orbit around the moon in 2024, and landing humans on the moon later in the year.