NASA Chose SpaceX to Launch the First Two Modules of the Gateway Station
SpaceX is the first contractor to deliver cargo to the future Lunar Gateway station. Elon Musk's company will deliver the payload to lunar orbit, including research experiments, supplies for astronauts, equipment for collecting samples, and more.
NASA chose SpaceX to send the first two modules of its Lunar Gateway station on a super-heavy Falcon Heavy rocket developed by SpaceX. The first Gateway modules will be launched into orbit from Kennedy Space Center no earlier than May 2024.
Last year, SpaceX was the first company to receive a Gateway Logistics Services contract for the supply of Gateway. Now, NASA has decided to entrust SpaceX with delivering the first modules to the lunar Gateway station. According to the agency's website, Elon Musk's company will receive about $331.8 million. It will launch Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and its Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) into space as one integrated payload.
Initially, the dispatch of the first elements of the station was planned for 2022, and the start of manned missions was sceduled for 2023-2024. As planned by NASA, American astronauts will be able to use the Gateway station to land on the Moon. In the future, it will also become the base for sending spacecraft and people into deep space. In 2030, the first expedition to Mars is supposed to launch from the Gateway station.
For the mission to the Gateway station, Elon Musk's company needs to develop a new cargo ship Dragon XL based on the current Cargo Dragon spacecraft used to deliver cargo to the ISS. To date, SpaceX is using a Falcon 9 rocket to deliver the Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station. The spacecraft is capable of delivering 6 tons of cargo to near-earth orbit. After that, it stays on the ISS for about a month before returning back to Earth.