NASA Artemis Program is the space agency’s biggest mission for the near future. The mission will involve sending the first woman and the next man to the Moon to explore the lunar surface. The mission also involves the Lunar Gateway, which is an orbiting habitat on the Moon. NASA has just signed a deal with SpaceX to use the Falcon Heavy for the Lunar Gateway project.
NASA Lunar Gateway Project Explained
The NASA Lunar Gateway project can be understood as an established infrastructure on the Moon for sustained lunar exploration and development. The project involves an orbiting habitat, allowing astronauts to take regular trips to the Moon – just like their trips to the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA announced that it had selected the Falcon Heavy rocket to launch the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO). This, the space agency plans to launch the mission by May 2024 at the earliest.
NASA further explained that once the Lunar Gateway is setup on the Moon, it will play a key role in communication. The PEE element will provide power (60KW), high-speed communication, attitude control, and also solar-electric propulsion capabilities.
On the other hand, the HALO element will act as the docking hub for both living and working space for the crew. The HALO element also acts as the command and control module for science investigations. It is a key entity for providing communication support, distributing power, and so on. The vehicles that NASA plans to send will also be communicated with the HALO element.
NASA, SpaceX Sign Deal, Once Again
The most recent development regarding the Lunar Gateway is signing a deal with SpaceX to carry the foundational elements. The deal was signed between the premier and the private space agencies for around USD 331.8 million.
The NASA statement said once the PPE and the HALO elements are ready, they would be integrated on Earth and launch aboard the single Falcon Heavy rocket. The liftoff will be scheduled from the Launch Complex 39A at the NASA Kennedy Space Center, sometime in May 2024.
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