Thursday, April 18, 2024

Northrop Grumman to build moon outpost living quarters for Gateway

An American multinational aerospace and defense technology company, Northrop Grumman, has received a new $935 million contract from NASA to develop the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) for lunar Gateway, which will be a critical way station and outpost in orbit around the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

NASA and its commercial and international partners are building Gateway to support science investigations and enable surface landings at the Moon, which will help prepare astronauts for future missions to Mars. Northrop Grumman will be responsible for attaching and testing the integrated HALO with the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), being built by Maxar Technologies.

HALO will be the first element to be launched into space, along with the power and propulsion unit, to form the Gateway station within the Artemis program. This is where astronauts will live and conduct research while visiting the Gateway. In lunar orbit, the pressurized living quarters will provide command and control systems for the lunar outpost and docking ports for visiting spacecraft, lunar landers, and logistics resupply craft.

The HALO module will serve as the backbone for command and control and power distribution across Gateway and will perform other core functions, including hosting science investigations via internal and external payload accommodations and communicating with lunar surface expeditions. It also will enable the aggregation of additional habitable elements to expand Gateway capabilities.

The integrated PPE and HALO will be the Gateway’s foundation, enabling humanity’s first permanent outpost in orbit around the Moon. The Gateway will be in a near-rectilinear halo orbit, which will allow NASA and its international and commercial partners to conduct unprecedented deep space science and technology investigations and conduct sustainable lunar exploration.

A previous contract for HALO, awarded in June 2020, funded work through preliminary design review for the complex engineering project. The review process for the module, completed in May, assessed all of the spacecraft’s design to ensure the overall system is safe and reliable for flight and meets NASA’s mission requirements.

NASA is building the infrastructure to expand human exploration further out into the solar system than ever before, including Gateway, the lunar space station that will help us make inspirational scientific discoveries at and around the Moon. Just as importantly, these investments will help NASA carry out the United States’ horizon goal: to further develop and test the technology and science needed for a human trip to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The HALO is a critical component of Gateway, and this exciting announcement today brings us one step closer to landing American boots on both the Moon and Mars.

As part of NASA’s Artemis program, eight countries have signed an international agreement to conduct research on the Moon. NASA is trying to set standards for creating long-term settlements on the Moon’s surface. With the Artemis program, NASA plans to send astronauts to the Moon in 2024 with a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.