NASA considers a mini space station for the moon

NASA is considering a new space station that would act as an intermediate house for astronauts near the moon, which could be completed as early as 2025. Nicknamed the NASA-Gateway Lunar Orbit Platform, it would offer future missions a point from which to observe the moon, in addition to acting as a reference point for further space exploration. In fact, it could eventually be a springboard to travel to Mars.

It would not, of course, be the first orbital platform of this type. However, unlike the International Space Station, which is manned throughout the year, the Lunar-Gateway Orbiting Platform was only designed for temporary occupancy. The rest of the time it would be unscrewed and self-maintained, according to the scheme.

As a result, it could also be considerably smaller than the ISS, so construction and maintenance would also be simpler. Although the plans are still being developed, one possibility is that the gateway can be established in a so-called near-rectilinear halo or NRHO. Instead of circling the moon at an even distance along its entire length, that orbit would see the space station making alternate near pbades and then longer loops away from the surface.

That would allow Gateway to also maintain the line of sight with the Earth, making consistent communications possible. It would also leave the solar panels of the space station perpetually bathed in sunlight, something important given that it would be the main source of energy. Boeing has already devised a possible design for what could be an installation of this type.

The plan was part of the discussion at the Deep Space Gateway Conceptual Science Workshop, reports, in which NASA invited a variety of experts to discuss the possibility of a new space station. "The different areas of science really embrace the idea of ​​a human gateway around the moon and do not compete with what they are currently doing," said Ben Bussey, chief scouting scientist at the Human Exploration Mission and Operations Directorate. The NASA. event. "It represents a new opportunity for them."

Possible applications for the riff Gateway, in some cases, for the purposes badigned to the International Space Station. For example, it could be used for experiments on the health of astronauts in zero gravity, biology and plant tests, and other physics tests. Of course, its proximity to the moon would allow a more detailed examination of the Earth's satellite.

Some of the possibilities also relate to further exploration. Although the experts are divided as to the value we could get from lunar science, testing new systems would improve the form of the experiments and the hardware that would later be used for missions to Mars. In fact, the entire Gateway could end up being a waypoint for such missions, effectively acting as a zero-gravity service point.

If NASA gets the go-ahead, it could launch the first part of the Gateway in 2022 at the earliest. That would be the propulsion and power module of the platform, and then other components would come, such as room systems and air locks. Intended to use commercial rocket launches, such as those currently provided by SpaceX, everything must be completed by 2025.

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