NASA and the ESA have announced that they have finalized an agreement to collaborate on the Artemis Gateway. NASA says the agreement is an important part of its effort to engage international partners in sustainable lunar exploration and to demonstrate future technologies needed for a mission to Mars. The agreement was signed on Tuesday, marking NASA’s first formal commitment to launching an international crew to the lunar vicinity as part of the Artemis missions.
NASA intends to execute additional Gateway agreements with other international partners soon. Under the agreement between NASA in the ESA, the ESA will contribute to habitation and refueling modules and enhanced lunar communications to the gateway. The refueling module provided by the ESA will have crew observation windows. The European agency will also be responsible for operations of the gateway elements it provides.
The agreement also sees ESA providing a pair of European Service Modules for the NASA Orion spacecraft. Those modules will power and propel Orion on future Artemis missions while providing air and water for the crew. The International Habitation module will include components that Japan intends to contribute, including a pair of docking ports where human landing systems can aggregate.
Outpost Environmental Control and Life Support Systems will also be housed on the habitation module along with accommodations for internal and external science experiments. Crew work and living space will also be a component of the module. Docked Orion spacecraft will also augment life-support systems of the module to enable longer-duration missions.
The Gateway will be assembled in orbit around the Moon as a staging point and enabling platform for lunar missions. Gateway will also be used as a staging point for Mars and other deep space missions. When finished, Gateway will be about 1/6th the size of the International Space Station and will orbit in a Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit. NASA has contracted with industrial sources in the US to build the first two Gateway components.