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Gateway Lunar Orbiting Outpost

  • 16 Jun 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has finalised the contract to design the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) for its Gateway Lunar Orbiting Outpost.

  • The Habitation and Logistics (HALO) support for the Gateway, is a part of NASA’s Artemis program that aims to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024.

Key Points

  • Habitation and Logistics (HALO)
    • It refers to the pressurised living quarters where astronauts will spend their time while visiting the Gateway.
    • These quarters will be about the size of a small apartment and will provide augmented life support together with Orion spacecraft.
  • The Gateway:
    • NASA has targeted the completion of the Gateway for 2026, while work on the spaceship is already underway.
    • The Gateway can be used at least once per year and astronauts can not stay around the year like they do on the International Space Station (ISS).
    • Once docked to the Gateway, astronauts will be able to stay there for three months at a time.
      • Compared to the ISS, the Gateway is much smaller.
  • Significance:
    • It will act as an airport, where spacecraft bound for the lunar surface of Mars can refuel or replace parts and resupply things like food and oxygen, allowing astronauts to take multiple trips to the Lunar surface and exploration of new locations across the Moon.
    • By studying the geology of the Earth, the Moon, and Mars – the three planetary bodies and the ways in which they are similar and different from each other, it would give a sight about how planets and planetary systems form.
    • Significantly, Gateway would work as a science platform to look back at the Earth, observe the Sun, and get unobstructed views of the vast universe.

Gateway Lunar Orbit Outpost

  • The Gateway is a small spaceship that will orbit the Moon, meant for astronaut missions to the Moon and later, for expeditions to Mars.
  • It will act as a temporary office and living quarters for astronauts, distanced at about 250,000 miles from Earth.
  • The spaceship will have living quarters, laboratories for science and research and docking ports for visiting spacecraft.
  • One of the most unique features of the Gateway is that it can be moved to other orbits around the Moon to conduct more research.
  • It is expected to play a major role in NASA's Artemis program, after 2024.
  • While the project is led by NASA, the Gateway is meant to be developed, serviced, and utilized in collaboration with commercial and international partners: Canada (Canadian Space Agency), Europe (European Space Agency), and Japan (JAXA).

The Artemis

  • It is a crewed spaceflight program of NASA that has the goal of landing "the first woman and the next man" on the Moon, specifically at the lunar south pole region by 2024.
  • It is a key step towards the long-term goal of establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon, laying the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy, and eventually sending humans to Mars.

Orion Spacecraft

  • It is being developed by NASA.
  • It is a powerful, advanced launch vehicle for a new era of human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit.
  • It is designed to take astronauts to deep space destinations such as the Moon and Mars.

Way Forward

  • As NASA sets its sights on returning to the Moon, and preparing for Mars, it is developing new opportunities in lunar orbit to provide the foundation for human exploration deeper into the solar system.
  • It would also support the technology maturation and development of operating concepts needed for missions beyond the Earth and Moon system.
  • Building the Gateway with commercial and international partners is a critical component of sustainable lunar exploration and the Artemis program.
  • So, the partnership would give a strategic presence of humans in space.

Source: IE

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