NASA to Build Gateway to Deep Space Travel
Ashley Allen / 2 years ago
NASA, in preparation to send its first manned mission to Mars, has announced that it plans to build a manned spaceport in orbit of the Moon. The Deep Space Gateway will serve as a launching pad for its future deep space exploration missions, specifically its most powerful rocket yet, the Space Launch System (SLS), to facilitate its Mars mission.
“[T]he agency is […] looking to build a crew tended spaceport in lunar orbit within the first few missions that would serve as a gateway to deep space and the lunar surface,” NASA says. “This deep space gateway would have a power bus, a small habitat to extend crew time, docking capability, an airlock, and serviced by logistics modules to enable research. The propulsion system on the gateway mainly uses high power electric propulsion for station keeping and the ability to transfer among a family of orbits in the lunar vicinity.”
“The three primary elements of the gateway, the power and propulsion bus and habitat module, and a small logistics module(s), would take advantage of the cargo capacity of SLS and crewed deep space capability of Orion,” the space agency explains. “An airlock can further augment the capabilities of the gateway and can fly on a subsequent exploration mission, Building the deep space gateway will allow engineers to develop new skills and test new technologies that have evolved since the assembly of the International Space Station. The gateway will be developed, serviced, and utilized in collaboration with commercial and international partners.”
NASA intends to construct and maintain its Deep Space Gateway with commercial and international partners, and will, potentially, act as a launchpad for missions independent of NASA, such as those undertaken by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, or the European Space Agency.
“I envision different partners, both international and commercial, contributing to the gateway and using it in a variety of ways with a system that can move to different orbits to enable a variety of missions,” William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said. “The gateway could move to support robotic or partner missions to the surface of the moon, or to a high lunar orbit to support missions departing from the gateway to other destinations in the solar system.”
NASA plans to have its Deep Space Gateway operational by late-2020.