NASA is going forward to the Moon. With our Orion and Space
Launch System programs moving full steam ahead and our commercial partnerships
on the International Space Station enabling us to use resources to push
further, our sights are set on establishing a Gateway, an outpost near the Moon
that will allow astronauts to delve into the mysteries of the Moon and perfect
operations for missions deep into our solar system.
The Gateway is no longer a lofty goal. A team spanning multiple
NASA centers is already developing the outpost’s capabilities, lining up groups
to execute plans and seeking input from industry to ensure the space
marketplace already thriving in low-Earth orbit doesn’t leave the Moon out in
the cold. With the conclusion of a Formulation Sync Review (FSR) for the
Gateway in mid-February, NASA’s Johnson Space Center now is leading the
day-to-day development of the outpost.
Artist's concept of Gateway, NASA's next orbital outpost. Image Credit: NASA
the helm of the Gateway Program Office is Dan Hartman, the former deputy
manager of the Space Station Program. He brings a depth of knowledge about developing
and operating an orbital outpost and working with both international and
commercial partners. Lara Kearney, who most recently served as the manager of
the Crew and Service Module Office within the Orion Program, will serve as the
deputy manager for the program. She brings experience with spacecraft design
and production tailored for deep space and an understanding of the agency’s
systems already in development that will help deliver crew and payloads to the
moving quickly to establish our team and processes to manage the formulation of
the Gateway Program while defining our baseline and protecting for long-lead
procurements,” Hartman said. “Since the start of the Gateway as a concept, JSC
has played a central role in NASA’s work to develop the spaceport, and we will
build upon our expertise at this and other centers, together with our international
partners, in planning and completing complicated human spaceflight missions to
bring the Gateway to fruition. I look forward to working with this immensely
The FSR demonstrated that
the design concept for the Gateway, the requirements for the spacecraft, the
schedule for the system’s development and its costs meet the mission needs
defined by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
An agencywide team, along
with NASA’s international partners, created extensive products for the FSR.
“An incredible amount of
work went into this,” said Deb Ludban, systems engineering and integration
deputy lead for the Gateway, who was instrumental in making the FSR happen.
“The requirements set included the spacecraft’s concept of operations and
architecture, mission design, system specifications, design and construction
standards, interface requirements approach, safety and mission assurance
requirements, and human rating.”
addition to formally transferring management of the Gateway from Headquarters
to Johnson, in the last several months NASA has made significant progress
spurring commercial Moon-related activities.
In November, nine U.S.
companies were selected to be eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the
lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts—one of
the first steps toward long-term scientific study and human exploration of the
Moon and, eventually, Mars. These companies
will be able to bid on delivering science and technology payloads for NASA,
including payload integration and operations, launching from Earth and landing
on the surface of the Moon. NASA expects to be one of many customers that will
use these commercial landing services. Lunar payloads could fly on these
contracted missions as early as this year.
Late last year,
NASA also announced plans to work with American companies to design and develop
new reusable systems for astronauts to land on the lunar surface. The agency is planning to test new human-class
landers on the Moon beginning in 2024, with the goal of sending crew to the
surface in 2028. In
February, a solicitation was issued to American companies to study
the best approach for landing astronauts on the Moon, and to
start the development as quickly as possible with current and future
The agency plans on sending humans to the Moon is
using a system of three separate elements that will provide transfer, landing
and safe return. A key aspect of this proposed approach is to use the Gateway to support roundtrip journeys to and from the lunar
Gateway development is moving fast … but there’s still time
to check out our primer for more information on how we’ll assemble it and
provide opportunity for our partners.
Artist's concept of a human landing system and its crew on the lunar surface with Earth near the horizon. Image Credit: NASA
NASA's Johnson Space Center