NASA picks SpaceX Falcon Heavy for $332M mission to launch lunar Gateway components in 2024 – TechCrunch

Nasa has Announced The SpaceX Gateway will carry two major parts of the lunar orbiter that will act as pit closures for future moon missions. The Power and Propulsion Element and Habitation and Logistics Outpost – which together will form the first usable lunar space station – will go to Falcon Heavy in 2024, estimated to cost $ 332 million.

Falcon Heavy, which offers a larger lift capacity than SpaceX’s hitherto commonly used Falcon 9, has had only two commercial launches since its success. Test launch in early 2018 (With Strowman and a Tesla Roadster, you’ll remember). Arabesat-6a Launched in April of 2019, And STP-2 after few months, But since then Heavy has not seen any action. (Several missions are planned for next year)

NASA’s selection of a launch vehicle, which would bring these two critical components into lunar orbit, is a huge support, however, and may actually snowball further down the line if the agency’s own space launch system continues to delay is.

PPE and HALO, as the two pieces are called, provide the essential for a self-standing lunar orbital habitat: essentially pressurized cabins and power sources that keep it operating and allow maneuver. So you can say that they are fundamental.

They are also large, and cannot be shipped in 10 separate pieces on small rockets. But there are precious few heavy launch vehicles available – and it seems they decided that SpaceX had the best bet, having already had three successful missions.

The mission is worth $ 332 million in launches and related costs, so it is a serious investment that will require considerable collaboration between SpaceX, NASA, Northrop Grumman (which is building HALO) and Maxar (creating PPE) .

The CG image of the lunar gate with the propulsion element and the first habitable element are attached. Not particularly huge, but you can’t beat the scene. Image: NASA

For now the launch is not set for earlier than 2024, but it may (and indeed is likely to be highly slippery) as to various delays. The entire Artemis program is experiencing a period of reality alignment, and while new target dates have not been given for all the ambitious plans made during the past four years, the old few have been repeated as if they were recent falls. . Yet the five or six-year plan to return to the lunar surface is still quite ambitious, considering that – as has become NASA’s standard – “We’re going to stay there.”

We will likely hear more about the new timeline as the agency catches it over the next few months.