The goal of NASA to return to the moon must see a huge push in early 2019 when the organization honors its first contract for the lunar “gateway” program.

The Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway is the planned staging area of NASA anticipated for research of the deep-space environment and the moon. Later on, it will serve as a way station for astronauts wandering to and from Mars. 

According to the Associate Administrator of NASA, William Gerstenamaier, the first spending for the platform for NASA will be for propulsion and power elements early next year, then followed by habitation components. Probably, they will be launched moonward, starting in 2022. 

The platform must be orbiting on the moon in the year 2025. The 41-year NASA veteran also added that it would carry a 4-astronaut crew on thirty days mission. On top of that, the gateway would also further the goal of NASA of another human landing on the moon. It will help identify whether water nearby the surface could be utilized to manufacture propellant for a deep-space mission. The gravity of the moon could also assist a spacecraft to lessen the blazing speeds utilized for six months expedition back and forth to Mars, therefore making it simple to re-entry into the atmosphere of the Earth. 

The team like to understand the orbital mechanics around the moon, far from the deep gravity well of the Earth. Doing stuff in this region, where gravity is not such a huge driver is a different way of operating. 

In November, NASA picked five corporations to examine a high-power solar electric propulsion system to utilize in a deep-space mission that includes the lunar platform. Human missions in the future will need a power system, which has triple the ability of existing designs. 

Journeys to the gateway would be on the Orion – a spacecraft made by Lockheed Martin, along with the service module provided by the European Space Agency. The first flight of Orion, without a crew, is planned next year. The craft will play on the command deck when it is docked with the platform. 

The lunar platform is constructed on current NASA budgets and does not need a massive new influx of funding. It is not a rigid program of one mission following another. Gernstenmaier added that as long as they see the moon as a stepping stone and not an end goal, then they’re ok.