NASA will lead the development of the Gateway, a permanent spaceship orbiting the Moon, to serve as a home base for human and robotic missions to the surface of the Moon and ultimately, Mars. The first orbiting lunar laboratory will be a temporary home and office for astronauts for up to three months at a time, with cargo deliveries likely scheduled when crew are not present.
The agency is seeking input from U.S. companies regarding logistics requirements to supply the Gateway. This request, published Oct. 23, 2018, will help NASA understand service options to transport cargo, equipment and other goods like food to and from the orbiting spaceship nearly 240,000 miles from home. Responses are due to NASA by Nov. 2, 2018.
NASA is interested in a logistics module capable of carrying pressurized and unpressurized cargo. The agency anticipates needing at least three cargo delivery missions, with the first mission potentially delivering a robotic arm provided by an international partner to the Gateway in 2024. The first two logistics modules will likely launch on commercial rockets, but after Gateway assembly, NASA’s Space Launch System will be available as well.
Once docked to the Gateway, the logistics module will be used for storage and trash. Additional requirements are outlined below, and in the information request online:
Must include guidance and navigation, power generation and propulsion to enable docking to the Gateway;
Must be built to the International Docking Standard; and
Must be capable of self-disposal within three years of space operations.
The agency has previously asked U.S. industry to submit proposals to partner to build a power and propulsion element for demonstration in space and subsequent use to maintain the Gateway’s position in orbit, move it between orbits, and provide power and communications for the spaceship. After a successful in-flight demonstration, NASA has the option to accept ownership of the element(s) from its private partner(s).
NASA’s powerful Space Launch System rocket will make multiple trips to lunar orbit, carrying additional parts of the Gateway together with the Orion spacecraft and its crew. The logistics module could be a co-manifested payload on future SLS missions.
As the agency moves humans deeper into the solar system with its partners, a spaceship in lunar orbit is necessary to achieve the ambitious exploration goals set forth by President Donald Trump and to prepare humanity for missions to the Moon and Mars.
This request is open to responses only from U.S. companies, and is strictly for information gathering purposes. NASA plans to issue an upcoming solicitation for U.S. Gateway logistics module services, and anticipates international Gateway partners to contribute logistic services as well, with details to be worked out at a later date.