Tuesday, NASA announced the agency will team up with the European Space Agency to build the lunar space station Gateway.
Part of Project Artemis, Gateway will be an outpost for future manned missions to the Moon, as well as a launching point for missions to Mars.
The European Space Agency will provide a refueling module with observation windows, a habitation module, and supply enhanced lunar communcations. In addition, the ESA will also assume operational responsibiity for all of the Gateway elements it provides.
The Gateway contributions are in addition to the two European Service Modules it already will provide for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The ESMs will propel and power Orion in space, as well as provide air and water for its crew members.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the partnership builds on cooperation already in place.
“This partnership leverages the outstanding cooperation established by the International Space Station as we push forward to the Moon. Gateway will continue to expand NASA’s cooperation with international partners like ESA, ensuring the Artemis program results in the safe and sustainable exploration of the Moon after the initial human lunar landing and beyond.”NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
The International Habitation module (I-Hab) will also include components from Japan, along with two docking ports for human landers and the outpost’s Environment Control and Life Support Systems. Experiments will also be housed in the I-Hab and the life support systems with augment those provided by the docked Orion, enabling longer duration stays at Gateway and more robust missions to the lunar surface.
Gateway will be assembled in orbit around the Moon, and will be 1/6 the size of the International Space Station.
Gateway will also serve as a testing ground for technologies for future missions to Mars. NASA has already announced they will use the station to test remote management of autonomous spacecraft systems and other technologies.
In March, the first two scientific investigations to fly aboard the Gateway were selected, one from NASA and the other from ESA. ESA is contributing an experiment to measure space radiation at higher energies, focusing on astronaut protection, with NASA’s experiment monitoring lower energies critical to scientific investigations of the Sun.
Similar to the ISS, Gateway’s international partners will collaborate to share scientific data transmitted back to Earth.