This will be the new Gateway space station, the “bus stop” to the Moon

The idea is to serve as a fuel and spare parts warehouse, operations center and scientific observatory. It will replace the current International Space Station (ISS), active since 1998.

Gateway means “gateway” in Spanish. It cannot be a more descriptive name, since it is the new space station from which NASA and other international agencies intend to explore the Moon and Mars.

This was announced by Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of NASA, in an article published on the Ozy portal. “We are going to the Moon with new technologies and innovative systems to explore more surface locations than we ever thought possible. This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay, ”he explained.

With this forcefulness, the representative of the US agency showed the firm will of the organization to return to the star, 50 years after its discovery, in 1969, and to do so in the long term and in a sustainable way.

Back to the moon

Because right now? One of the main reasons that can explain this sudden interest in the star is the search for new resources, which replace the current materials and sources, which are depleted.

For this purpose, the new Gateway space station is of fundamental importance. According to Jan Wörner, general director of the European Space Agency (ESA), the new platform will be like “a bus stop” towards its exploration.

Located in the lunar orbit, about 1,500 kilometers from the surface of the Moon at the nearest point and 70,000 in the farthest, and 400,000 from our planet – five days of travel – will serve to make missions from Earth to scale and have easier access and study of the Moon. Something like a base camp from which to leave to get to know the space.

An unprecedented collaboration

A novelty against Apollo, according to Bridenstine, is that this time it is a global cooperation project.

NASA leads it, but large international agencies also participate, such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

In addition to the state organizations, the administrator of NASA has assured that they will have other collaborating partners: private companies, which to date is quite new. Where appropriate, private companies will be responsible for sending equipment and resources to the terminal.

la nueva estacion espacial Gateway

Six modules in a space similar to a small apartment or a bus

If the current International Space Station (ISS) has a size of 388 cubic meters, the new Gateway space station will be considerably smaller: it will consist of 55 cubic meters. It will be provided with six modules, which will be added to the platform at different times.

The first one, that of propulsion and energy – Power and Propulsion Element or PPE – will be manufactured by NASA. It will have a 40 km solar electric propulsion system and two tons of xenon as fuel. It will be the only one of the modules that take off from Earth from a commercial rocket and not by NASA’s SLS rockets.

The new Gateway space station will also have a section for communications. Manufactured by the European Space Agency (ESA), it will bear a name in memory of Europe: “European System Providing Refueling Infrastructure and Telecom” (ESPRIT). Also built by Europeans, together with the Japanese agency, it will be the third module: habitability.

In the communiqués, they announce that this small space is designed to house astronauts in missions of between one and three months, a shorter time than the characteristic of the current International Space Station. There will be a second habitable module, somewhat larger. Also a «sluice» module to access outside the platform and a robotic arm that allows to move and perform maintenance tasks. It will be operational for 15 years.

A forecast questioned for being very optimistic

Long ago they had communicated that the sending of people would not be done until 2028, but NASA has redoubled the bet. The anticipated advance is likely to be a result of pressure from the Trump administration, which in 2019 asked Congress for a significant increase in investment for this operation, and also responds to some urgency in preventing another superpower, such as China, from taking over. Space leadership

2028, yes, it is the year in which NASA expects the station to be completely finished. But many experts do not quite believe that these calculations can be fulfilled.

Above all, as a result of the US Congress reducing the amount of millions of dollars destined to finance the expensive operation and delays in the manufacture of SLS rockets.

Time will tell us who is right.

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