NASA, European Space Agency Formalize Artemis Gateway Partnership

NASA, European Space Agency Formalize Artemis Gateway Partnership

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2020

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) have finalized an agreement to collaborate on the Artemis Gateway. This agreement is an important element in a broad effort by the United States to engage international partners in sustainable lunar exploration and to demonstrate technologies necessary for a future human mission to Mars. The agreement, signed Tuesday, marks NASA’s first formal commitment to launch international crew members to the lunar vicinity as part of NASA’s Artemis missions.

NASA Logo. (PRNewsFoto/NASA) (PRNewsFoto/) (PRNewsfoto/NASA)
NASA Logo. (PRNewsFoto/NASA) (PRNewsFoto/) (PRNewsfoto/NASA)

The agreement is a critical part of NASA’s efforts to lead an unprecedented global coalition to the Moon. Additional Gateway agreements with other international partners will be executed in the near future, further contributing to the creation of a dynamic and sustainable lunar exploration architecture.

Under this agreement, ESA will contribute habitation and refueling modules, along with enhanced lunar communications, to the Gateway. The refueling module also will include crew observation windows. In addition to providing the hardware, ESA will be responsible for operations of the Gateway elements it provides. ESA also provides two additional European Service Modules (ESMs) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. These ESMs will propel and power Orion in space on future Artemis missions and provide air and water for its crew.

“This partnership leverages the outstanding cooperation established by the International Space Station as we push forward to the Moon,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Gateway will continue to expand NASA’s cooperation with international partners like ESA, ensuring the Artemis program results in the safe and sustainable exploration of the Moon after the initial human lunar landing and beyond.”

The International Habitation module (I-Hab) includes components Japan intends to contribute and two docking ports where human landing systems can aggregate. The habitation module also will house the outpost’s Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), contain accommodations for internal and external science experiments, and provide additional crew work and living space. I-Hab’s ECLSS will augment Gateway’s life support system capabilities provided by the docked Orion, enabling longer durations at the Gateway and support more robust Artemis missions to the lunar surface. 

“The Gateway is designed to be supplemented by additional capabilities provided by our international partners to support sustainable exploration,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “Gateway is going to give us access to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and we’re pleased that partners like ESA will join us on these groundbreaking efforts.”

The Gateway will be assembled in orbit around the Moon as a staging point and enabling platform for missions to the lunar surface, Mars, and other deep space destinations. Approximately one-sixth the size of the International Space Station, the Gateway will function as a way station located tens of thousands of miles from the lunar surface, in a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit, from which NASA

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NASA, European Space Agency to collaborate on Artemis Gateway lunar outpost

As NASA seeks to return humans to the lunar surface through its Artemis program, the space agency is adding international partnerships to facilitate sustainable exploration of the moon — while demonstrating that a human mission to Mars is possible in the future.

A collaborative agreement was finalized between NASA and the European Space Agency on Tuesday, and the two agencies will work together on the Artemis Gateway lunar outpost. This is also NASA’s first formal agreement to launch international crew members to the moon during the Artemis missions, according to the agency.

The Artemis Gateway will act as a way station serving astronauts traveling from Earth before they reach the surface of the moon.

“This partnership leverages the outstanding cooperation established by the International Space Station as we push forward to the Moon,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a statement.

“Gateway will continue to expand NASA’s cooperation with international partners like ESA, ensuring the Artemis program results in the safe and sustainable exploration of the Moon after the initial human lunar landing and beyond.”

How the Artemis program works

The Artemis program will rely on multiple assets including the Orion spacecraft, the Gateway and the Space Launch System rocket, known as SLS. One of the key features of the program is sustainable space exploration with reusable spacecraft and architecture, which could later take humans to Mars.

The SLS rocket will send Orion, astronauts and large cargo to the moon all at once, NASA said. And in the future, it could support robotic missions to Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

The Orion spacecraft can carry four crew members and support deep-space missions, unlike previous craft designed for short flights.

Eight nations sign NASA's Artemis Accords that guide cooperative exploration of the moon

Orion will dock at the Gateway, a lunar outpost that will go into orbit around the moon. About 250,000 miles from Earth, the Gateway will allow easier access to the entire surface of the moon and potentially deep-space exploration.

The current goal is to land the first woman and the next man near the lunar south pole by 2024, according to NASA. And it’s a goal that requires international partners. The agency anticipates that more will be added in the future.

Eight countries have signed on as founding member nations to NASA’s Artemis Accords during the 71st International Astronautical Congress held earlier in October.

This illustration shows the Gateway lunar outpost.

Those nations include Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

NASA released the Artemis Accords in May to establish a framework of principles for safely and responsibly planning for humanity’s return to the moon.

Assembling the Gateway

Per the agreement made this week between NASA and ESA, the European Space Agency will supply modules for habitation, refueling and enhanced lunar communications on the Gateway. The two agencies will also be responsible for these modules.

The International Habitation module will include the Gateway’s environmental control and life support system, additional living and work space for the crew and space for science experiments both inside and outside the module.

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