Fresh Blueprint of Future Moon Space Station Is the Simplest and Most Detailed Yet

At the time of writing there are two space stations in orbit around Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) and Chinese Tiangong (TSS). Several others are being planned by private companies, but they all pale in comparison with something called the Gateway.
Gateway lunar space station blueprint 12 photos
Photo: ESA
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Gateway is a future human outpost that will not circle our planet, but the Moon. It first came into the spotlight in 2018, when NASA laid out its plans not only to return to the satellite but also to make constant human presence there a reality.

Because of the distance between the Earth and its moon, having spaceships constantly moving back and forth is not necessarily the most efficient way to go about this business. That’s why the Gateway was imagined, as a sort of a staging post for orbital and surface missions.

In the time that has passed since its introduction, we’ve learned plenty about the place. As with any other structure of its kind, it will have a power and propulsion element, an actual habitat, but also logistics and airlock capabilities.

There are several companies and organizations working on this thing, so it will be a wide, international effort. The leaders of the project are of course NASA and its European counterpart, ESA, but SpaceX, Maxar, Northrop Grumman, and the Japanese space agency (JAXA) also have a role to play.

Gateway Space Station
Photo: NASA
We got a pretty decent look at the Gateway about a year ago, when NASA treated us to a detailed schematic of the place, showing who is doing what for the project (photo above). But now we get a first clear view of a simplified blueprint of the place, and it’s simply stunning.

For this blueprint we learn the Gateway will weigh a total of 40 tons, and it will circle the Moon once every five days. Its orbit will take it both close to the surface for close observations, but also far enough to be able to meet incoming spacecraft carrying humans and supplies.

A crew of four people can be housed on the station at any given time, and they can stay there for up to 90 days. The blueprint reveals they’ll have access to an international habitat, a habitation and logistics outpost, and several other modules.

The blueprint, made public by ESA, also shows an Orion spaceship docked at one end of the station. The Artemis piece of hardware will be the main means of crew and cargo transport to the station, but not the only one.

As per current plans, the first bits of the station, the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), and the habitation and logistic outpost (HALO) will launch for their place in lunar orbit sometime next year. There is no estimate yet on when the Gateway might become fully operational.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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