NASA has announcedthat Northrop Grumman will design and build the first manned lunar module of the space station Gateway. It will be launched in 2023, together with the service module providing the station with energy and propulsion system for orbit correction.
Gateway is a future orbiting space station, which NASA, with the participation of other space agencies planning to build on the lunar orbit in the next few years. The first station is positioned as a base for the expeditions of astronauts on the lunar surface. Another important aim of the project is to develop and test the technologies that will form the basis of the first manned missions to Mars. Read more about the project Gateway we described in the material “intermediate station”.
The rst two modules of the station will travel in a lunar halo orbit in November and December 2023. Initially, NASA had planned to run them on two different rockets and then to connect the modules in orbit, but decided to abandon this idea and to run them on the same media. It will be a Falcon Heavy with a larger nose fairing, but NASA officially announced the choice of the launch at the end of 2020.
The first unit, the construction of which was commissioned Northrop Grumman, will serve as a temporary home for the astronauts. The company decided to use the achievements of its cargo spacecraft, Cygnus and use in the habitat the main part of the hull, and part of the other components. The engineers at Northrop Grumman and NASA has assembled and tested layout of a similar unit in 2019. In addition to living space in the module will have four docking (two at the ends and two in the cylindrical part of the hull) and a life-support system.
Northrop Grumman and NASA signed a contract for the development of the project module worth 187 million dollars (the contract was signed for the scheme “payment of cost plus incentive fee”, so the amount may change). At the end of the year, NASA plans to enter into a second contract covering the production costs and module test.
The second module will build the company Maxar Technologies, which received a contract from NASA for 375 million dollars in 2019. It will be equipped with solar panels, ion engines and telecommunications equipment to communicate with Earth, arriving by ship and landing module on the moon’s surface.
Recently NASA announced about the first commercial contract for the carriage of goods to the station. It was received by the company SpaceX, which will develop a new cargo spacecraft Dragon XL on the basis of developments on the projects Dragon, and Crew Dragon.