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The International Space Station partners have endorsed plans to continue the development of the Gateway, an outpost around the moon that will act as a base to support both robots and astronauts exploring the lunar surface.
The Multilateral Coordination Board, which oversees the management of the Space Station, stressed its common hope for the Gateway to open up a cost-effective and sustainable path to the moon and beyond.
The announcement comes after several years of extensive study among space agencies who have developed a technically achievable design. The partnership includes European countries (represented by ESA), the United States (NASA), Russia (Roscosmos), Canada (CSA) and Japan (JAXA).
"We are getting ready, together, to send humans farther into the Solar System than ever before. The lunar Gateway is the next big step in human exploration and we are working to make Europe a part of it," says David Parker, ESA's human and robotic exploration director.
NASA's Orion spacecraft will transport astronauts to the Gateway. Orion is powered by the European Service Module, which will give the crewed vehicle a final push to inject it into translunar orbit.
The White House’s fiscal year 2020 budget request for NASA proposes to delay work on an upgraded version of the Space Launch System and would transfer some of that vehicle’s payloads to other rockets.
The proposal, released by the Office of Management and Budget March 11, offers a total of $21.02 billion for the space agency, a decrease of $480 million over what Congress appropriated in the final fiscal year 2019 spending bill signed into law Feb. 15.
A major element of the proposal is to defer work on the Block 1B version of the SLS, which would increase the rocket’s performance by replacing its existing Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage with the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage. The budget “instead focuses the program on the completion of the initial version of the SLS and supporting a reliable SLS and Orion annual flight cadence,” the OMB budget stated. The first SLS/Orion mission, without a crew, is now planned for the “early 2020s,” according to the budget, an apparent slip from the planned 2020 launch of Exploration Mission (EM) 1.
The Gateway’s structure consists of two concentric inner rings fixed by four spokes to an outer ring. The two concentric rings make up the Lunar Gravity Area (LGA), where the station’s rotation provides a gravitational force equal to that of the lunar surface. The external inner ring – the LGA Habitation ring – is where habitation modules will be placed, which will consist of small rooms for guests.
The outer ring, known as the Mars Gravity Area (MGA), experiences faster rotation since it is further from the core. This results in an artificial gravitational force that is similar to what would be experienced on the surface of Mars. This area will have 4 or 5 decks and be where large modules that offer permanent accommodations will be located.
Part of the holdup is due to the fact that much of the lunar return architecture relies on two NASA vehicles that have been stuck in development for the last decade: a massive rocket called the Space Launch System and a crew capsule called Orion. NASA plans to use these vehicles to build parts of the Gateway and transport people to and from the new station. However, the SLS has yet to fly — the first demonstration mission planned for 2020 — and both programs have suffered numerous setbacks and schedule delays, making the future timeline of the Gateway uncertain.
The Gateway, which won't begin to be launched to lunar orbit until the mid-2020s, will orbit the moon and serve as a jumping off point for missions to the surface and later to Mars.
originally posted by: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
a reply to: lostbook
Funny enough, the article starts off saying "In December, 2017, President signed into order..." NASA's new directive to go back to the moon. As the article quote says, they are having rocket delays which throws any time line off.
Which shows how silly it is to mandate "Go back to the moon" only to have your budget slashed 2 years later.
originally posted by: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
The Orion rocket was to be the workhorse delivery vehicle.
Is there anything that can be done in space cheaper than it can on earth?
originally posted by: sapien82
a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
YEH so cool time to get up there and do some space mining !
makes me think of the belters in the expanse !