NASA selects SpaceX as initial partner to deliver logistics to lunar Gateway

30 Mars, 2020, 00:40 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Dragon XL

An artist's impression of a SpaceX Dragon XL cargo ship finally heading to NASA's Gateway space station in orbit around the moon.

At current NASA plans to launch the multi-cargo provide missions to the Gateway which is within the plan of building, with the spacecraft created to go to the station and tends to stay there for about 6 to 12 months. But Dragon XL will likely stay attached to the Gateway for six to 12 months at a time, NASA officials said.

The estimated costs of these contracts are expected to top-up for the maximum of $7 billion for the entire contract, with the guarantee of providing a minimum of two missions per provider. These will be carried out by other private companies in addition to SpaceX operating under firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts for logistics services, with each provider guaranteed two missions each. Under the first Gateway Logistics Services contract to be awarded to a United States company, SpaceX will deliver pressurized and unpressurized supplies, experiments, and items to the Gateway station, which will be used for the Artemis program to return American astronauts to the lunar surface and establish a permanent manned presence there.

SpaceX will use a new spacecraft, called Dragon XL, launched on the company's Falcon Heavy rocket to carry cargo to the lunar Gateway. It will fly on top of the company's super-heavy lift launch vehicle, the Falcon Heavy rocket.

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SpaceX will help to keep the Gateway supplied, delivering scientific experiments and a variety of other gear to the outpost, NASA officials said. It has already contracted with the company in delivering common provides that run on the Earth orbit utilizing its Dragon cargo spacecraft.

Gateway is a key part of NASA's Artemis exploration program, which seeks to establish a sustainable, long-term human presence on and around the moon by the late 2020s.

"This contract award is another critical piece of our plan to return to the Moon sustainably", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. NASA has as long as 12 years to order missions under the terms of the contract, with a 15-year performance period. This week, SpaceX encountered an issue while testing the parachute system that will be used on its Crew Dragon spacecraft, but a new update from NASA indicates the the previously stated mid-to-late May window for its first ever launch with astronauts on board is still on the calendar. "SpaceX has provided essential scientific research and supplies to the (space station) since 2012, and we are honored to continue the work beyond Earth's orbit". "We are bringing the innovative thinking of commercial industry into our supply chain and helping ensure we're able to support crews preparing for lunar surface expeditions by delivering the supplies they need ahead of time".

Like the ISS, the Gateway will be an worldwide effort with numerous agencies. One standard logistics service mission is anticipated for each Artemis SLS/Orion crewed mission to the Gateway.

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