SpaceX bags yet another contract from NASA to carry the initial lunar gateway components in 2024. And this mission is said to be carried by the Falcon Heavy rocket. The lunar orbiter will act as the middling station for future moon missions for SpaceX and NASA. This mission is going to cost $331.8 million to NASA including the cost of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket and other mission and operational costs. Do note that the Falcon Heavy will be specifically modified by SpaceX for this particular mission.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 9, 2021
More about the Artemis mission
NASA has selected SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket due to the much higher lift capacity as compared to the Falcon 9 rocket. With this mission, the Falcon Heavy will be used for the third time. Earlier the rocket has been used once to carry the Tesla Roadster to space and once in another launch in 2019. This also means that the rocket has been inactive for almost 2 years now. So, SpaceX also has to put some work into the Falcon Heavy to make it ready for use.
NASA believes that the gateway will act as a middle station for the astronauts to transmit data from the moon’s surface. This will be the most useful during the Artermus mission. Initially, the target is to carry the power and propulsion element and the Habitation and Logistics Output to get the lunar space station working. The PPE will have huge solar panels and will work with solar energy. It will also have rocket jets for space manoeuvring.
The modules spent into space will also have various other equipment for communication and will also have living quarters for astronauts. Astronauts can comfortably live in these units for up to 30 days. After these initial modules are carried to space by the Falcon Heavy more subsequent parts will also be launched. And the entire lunar gateway will be 1/6th the entire size of the International Space station. The gateway will help NASA conduct even better and deeper space research and will also act as an important checkpoint for astronauts.
NASA targets a launch date of May 2024 for the launch of the initial components of the lunar gateway components. But there might be delays due to complications in the rocket, the parts or maybe some other reasons. Several factors are affecting the Artemis mission and new dates for the launches may soon be announced by NASA. But until then its May 2024 for us.
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