NASA’s new lunar ‘Gateway” space station
NASA agency has award the contract for lunar ‘Gateway” program. NASA’s Lunar Orbital Platform –Gateway will see a major push in early 2019. Gateway will start orbiting the moon in 2025. It will launch for the moon and deep –space environment exploration. Eventually, it will also provide way station for astronauts travelling to and from Mars.
The objectives of Gateway?
In early next year the platform will provide the power and propulsion elements and then explore the habitation components, explained by William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, at the Space Symposium Conference in Colorado. The space station will carry crew of 4 astronauts on 30 days mission.
The Gateway will help to achieve the goal of human landing on the Moon and will determine whether water on the Moon’s surface can be used for manufacture propellant for deep-space missions. Moreover, the moon’s gravity will reduce the blistering speed of spacecraft. This will help the movement towards and back to the Mars. Thus the mission will facilitate the re-entry to Earth. Gateway will help to understand the orbital mechanics around moon far from Earth’s deep gravity; a different way of operating.
NASA has contacted the five companies for the studies of high-power solar-electric propulsion systems to use in lunar platform and other deep-space missions. Because the next missions will require the power system to have the triple capabilities as compared to current system.
The Gateway missions will aboard the spacecraft Orion designed by European Space Agency. However, Orion will start its first flight in next year without crew. Lockheed Martin Corp., who assembled Orion explained, gateway is a great momentum and we are providing expertise to NASA to bring know-how to this important effort.
Gerstenmaier said, as the gateway platform does not require huge influx of funding, while it’s a fiscal realism and adaptable. It can adapt to commercial partners as the program is not rigid, because we view the moon as a stepping stone, not an end goal. However, the developments in the vicinity of moon are really costly.