NASA Awards the First Contract for Lunar Gateway Power and Propulsion

NASA Awards the First Contract for Lunar Gateway Power and Propulsion

On Thursday NASA announced that they are going to develop and demonstrate gateway power, propulsion and communications capabilities for NASA’s lunar Gateway. This is one of the first steps of the agency’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.

“The power and propulsion element is the foundation of Gateway and a fine example of how partnerships with U.S. companies can help expedite NASA’s return to the Moon with the first woman and next man by 2024,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “It will be the key component upon which we will build our lunar Gateway outpost, the cornerstone of NASA’s sustainable and reusable Artemis exploration architecture on and around the Moon.”

The gateway power and propulsion element is a high-power, 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft – three times more powerful than current capabilities.

The Gateway provides a communications relay for human and robotic expeditions to the lunar surface, starting at the Moon’s South Pole.

The flight demonstration will last as long as one year, during which the spacecraft will be fully owned and operated by Maxar. NASA is going to launch the power and propulsion element on a commercial rocket in late 2022.

“We’re excited to demonstrate our newest technology on the power and propulsion element. Solar electric propulsion is extremely efficient, making it perfect for the Gateway,” said Mike Barrett, power and propulsion element project manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. “This system requires much less propellant than traditional chemical systems, which will allow the Gateway to move more mass around the Moon, like a human landing system and large modules for living and working in orbit.”

NASA Awards the First Contract for Lunar Gateway Power and Propulsion
The power and propulsion element of NASA’s Gateway is a high-power, 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft – three times more powerful than current capabilities. Credits: NASA

Source: Text; NASA

Image credit; NASA