The agency official says the station should be up and running no later than 2025, with the first launch of components towards the Moon scheduled for 2022. The pieces of the space puzzle would leave Earth on NASA’s new Space Launch System, and assembly is to be done on site.
NASA plans the Gateway to be comprised of power and propulsion elements, as well as habitation, logistics and airlock capabilities.
For the power and propulsion elements, NASA selected last year five companies to conduct feasibility studies: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Space Systems.
The space station should become habitable beginning 2023, with a yet unspecified number of crew members to take 30 to 60 days tours on the station. While there, they are to perform deep space exploration activities as well as something NASA calls “commercial activities.”
To keep the desired rotation of crews in check, as well as to supply it, NASA will have to perform launches at very close intervals. That means SpaceX and other private contractors will likely be brought onboard, just as they are now supplying the International Space Station orbiting Earth.
The Gateway is to act as a platform which would allow Lunar landings, the launch of spacecraft towards Mars and scientific research.
“The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway will give us a strategic presence in cislunar space. It will drive our activity with commercial and international partners and help us explore the Moon and its resources,” said William Gerstenmaier in February, when the project was announced.
"We will ultimately translate that experience into human missions to Mars.”