In an announcement on Friday, NASA revealed the first private American space company to receive a Gateway Logistics Services contract under the Artemis program: SpaceX. Under this new deal, SpaceX will eventually deliver various experiments, supplies, and other cargo to the planned lunar Gateway. The space agency has described this as a ‘significant step forward’ in its Artemis program, which is aiming for a manned return to the Moon by 2024.
Under a Gateway Logistics Services contract, NASA will be able to order missions for as long as 12 years, it explained on Friday. The space agency is working on making the lunar Gateway outpost a reality — it will be a small spaceship that remains in lunar orbit, serving as a living space for astronauts, a space lab for scientific work, and more.
As with the International Space Station today, the future Gateway will require regular shipments of cargo and other goods. SpaceX has worked extensively with NASA over the years to launch cargo deliveries, among other things, and it makes sense that the space agency would continue its work with the private space company.
In a statement, NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Deep Space Logistics manager Mark Wiese said:
This is an exciting new chapter for human exploration. We are bringing the innovative thinking of commercial industry into our supply chain and helping ensure we’re able to support crews preparing for lunar surface expeditions by delivering the supplies they need ahead of time.
At this point in time, NASA says that it is planning supply missions to the Gateway that will involve a cargo spacecraft spending between six and 12 months at the outpost each time. SpaceX plays an important role in NASA’s Artemis program and future Mars ambitions, but it isn’t the only private American space company working with the space agency. Among others, Boeing also has considerable involvement with the Artemis program.