NASA to develop first “Gateway Element” for in-depth space exploration

The space agency is looking forward to partner with a United States industry to build a Gateway which will become an orbital outpost for human and robotic operations in deep space.

The Gateway is a part of NASA’s Exploration Campaign, which seeks to tie up with commercial as well as international partners. It will aid space operations and explorations not only on and near the Moon but also beyond that, including Mars.

NASA requires solar electric propulsion (SEP) spacecraft, with a high power threshold of 50-kW, in order to stabilize the Gateway’s position and move in along lunar orbits as required. In addition to that, the SEP spacecraft will also harness power for the rest of the Gateway, controls, and communication. 

The space agency published a draft solicitation via a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for inviting partnership proposals for the first elements of the Gateway on 21 June 2018. Along with that, it will organize an industry day on July 10 at NASA’s Glenn Research Centre in Cleveland before the finalization of the BAA. 

Michele Gates, director, Power and Propulsion Element at NASA Headquarters in Washington said that the partnership with U.S industry for the requirements of the project, like power and propulsion element, will lead to commercial use of the SEP spacecraft as well as support NASA’s exploration objectives.

As reports say, the power and propulsion element of the Gateway is expected to allow effective communication between Earth and deep space, which will be crucial during deep space human explorations and much more.

NASA is planning to launch the power and propulsion element in 2022 on a commercial rocket provided by its partners.

The Exploration Campaign is in accord with the Space Policy Directive 1, for which NASA is returning to the Moon with commercial and international partners. Also, NASA issues a Request for Information regarding how U.S industry would utilize the Gateway to flourish space economy.

The agency’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, or NextSTEP, will develop full Gateway concepts and future habitation capabilities of the Gateway.

In accordance with the directive, the agency is moving forward with plans for robotic and human lunar explorations. “It’s an exciting time to be at NASA, and we look forward to partnering with U.S. industry and international partners as we lead the return to the Moon, and go beyond,” said Jason Crusan, director, Advanced Exploration Systems, at NASA Headquarters.