NASA announces contract for Space Station to orbit Moon

by Madhvi Bansal

After United States Vice President Mike Pence announced last year that they planned to use NASA to resend men to the moon by 2024 to re-establish the presence of the United States in space, NASA recently announced its most ambitious project till date: that of building a second Space Station that revolves around the Moon instead of the Earth. This project, called the Lunar Gateway, was only in its initial planning stages until recently, when NASA director Jim Bridenstine revealed that Maxar Technologies shall be building the first stage of the project. 

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The first stage is to build a way station of sorts

The Gateway is a part of the larger Artemis plan to return to the moon and re-establish US supremacy. The first stage of this project will be focusing mainly on building a way-station and placing it in orbit around the Moon. This will help in providing a habitat to astronauts as a preparation deck while they chose to embark on longer missions including those involving actual moon landings. It will also serve as a place to assemble, collect, and repair rockets and necessary amenities in space. The first element that shall be built and tested is a propulsion system to ensure that the rocket stays in place. 

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Maxar Technologies has been awarded 375 million dollars to build the system

Maxar Technologies is a new company that has been formed from the remnants of several space industrial players. The system it is building will convert solar energy into electrical energy in order to help power the Gateway. Fellow space companies Blue Origin and Draper will also assist Maxar in this endeavor.

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Brindestine also recently laid out the plans of NASA for the next five years of launching as well as research culminating with a Moon Landing by 2024 at the latest. The first launch, scheduled in mid-2020, will be an uncrewed test flight for a crew capsule to see how well it reacts with the atmosphere and the gravitational conditions surrounding the lunar body.