Context: NASA has finalised the contract for the initial crew module of the agency’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost.
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- It has issued this contract to design the habitation and logistics (HALO) support for the Gateway.
- The HALO refers to the pressurised living quarters where astronauts will spend their time while visiting the Gateway.
About the Gateway:
- It is part of NASA’s Artemis program that will be sending the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024.
- The Gateway is a small spaceship that will orbit the Moon and later will be used for expeditions to Mars.
- It will have living quarters, laboratories for science and research and docking ports for visiting spacecraft.
- It is being built by both international and commercial partners
- Compared to the ISS (International Space Station), the Gateway is much smaller (the size of a studio apartment), while the ISS is about the size of a six-bedroom house.
- It is key to the new era of lunar explorations.
- It will augment space research as it can be moved to other orbits around the moon.
- It will be used as a science platform to look back at the Earth, observe the Sun, and get unobstructed views of the vast universe.
- By studying the geology of the Earth, the Moon, and Mars, we can learn important things about how planets and planetary systems form.
- It will act as a temporary office and living quarters for astronauts, distanced at about 250,000 miles from Earth.
- Astronauts will use the Gateway at least once per year and not stay around the year like they do on the International Space Station (ISS).
- 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
As of now, NASA has targeted the completion of the Gateway by 2026 and the work on the spaceship is already underway.