NASA had plans to return to the moon from the beginning, and it might become possible during the year of 2019 when the contract is awarded to the agency for the ‘Gateway’ program. The Gateway which is a Lunar Orbital Platform is NASA’s planned area for studying the moon and deep space environment. And as time passes it will function as a ‘stop station’ for astronauts who are on Mars mission.
NASA will be spending first on the propulsion elements and power at the beginning of the next year, and then it will be followed by habitation components. They will be launched in 2022 towards the moon. The platform is expected to orbit the moon in 2025 and will carry a crew of 4 astronauts on a 30-day mission.
The Gateway would further water NASA’s dream of landing another human landing on the surface of the moon. It will help them determine whether the water found near the surface can be used to manufacture propellant for further deep space missions. The gravity of the moon will also help a spacecraft to reduce the speeds in the voyage and help in re-entry to the atmosphere of the Earth.
NASA selected five companies in November, to study a solar-electric propulsion system of high power to make use of deep space missions including the lunar Gateway platform. The future missions will need a power system which has 3 times the capability of the current ones. The Gateway will make its trip on the Orion which is a spacecraft assembled by Lockheed Martin.
The lunar platform is completely based on the current budgets of NASA budgets and won’t need huge amounts of funding. It has a fiscal realism and is adaptable. It is not a rigid kind of mission where a series of other mission will follow. As long as the moon mission is viewed as a stepping stone of the space missions to be carried out in the future, everything is fine. NASA is also making some calculations and assessing how to continue the presence of US in the lower orbit of Earth. Since the administration of Trump has proposed to end the funding of US by the year of 2024, this will be a great place for development. But to carry out major developments around the vicinity of the Moon can cost a huge amount of money.