Nasa shows off next generation ‘Lunar Gateway’ space station that will orbit the moon
Nasa wants to launch the Lunar Gateway in 2024 as part of its Artemis programme. But it says this is a goal, and has not confirmed a target launch date. Artemis will put human boots on the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972. The Gateway will support long-term human exploration of the rocky satellite.
But Nasa hopes it will eventually serve as a staging point for travel deeper into space. Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine previously said: ‘The Gateway will be our home base in lunar orbit – it is our command and service module for missions to the surface of the Moon. ‘Using it as a port for the human landing system, its orbit around the Moon will give us access to the entire lunar surface, and a place to refurbish and refuel the landing system.
Astronauts will travel to Gateway on Nasa’s ‘Space Launch System’, which will be the most powerful rocket the agency has ever built. It will carry up to four passengers to the station in a spacecraft named Orion. Elon Musk’s SpaceX will also do some of the heavy lifting for the Artemis programme. Nasa announced in February the company had been chosen to carry the foundational parts of the Gateway to lunar orbit. SpaceX recently also won a $2.9 billion contract for a landing system that will ferry astronauts on the lunar surface. The company plans use its prototype ‘Starship’ spacecraft for the job.