NASA selects SpaceX to launch two major lunar Gateway components

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has reportedly selected SpaceX Falcon Heavy for the launch of two major components of the Gateway lunar orbiter, a mission that is set to be undertaken in 2024. These pieces reportedly comprise the HALO (Habitation and Logistics Outpost) and the PPE (Power and Propulsion Element), which will collaboratively create the first operational lunar space station.

According to sources, NASA’s selection of Falcon Heavy is a huge endorsement. Subsequently, it might end up bringing more work to SpaceX in the future, provided there is a persistent delay in NASA’s own Space Launch System.

Having a valuation of $332 million in launch and associated costs, the mission is a serious investment that will require a lot of coordination between NASA, SpaceX, Maxar (the developer of the PPE), and Northrop Grumman (the maker of HALO).

As per reliable sources, HALO and the PPE are fundamental as they provide essentials for the development of a self-supporting lunar orbital habitation. These essentials include a power sources and a pressurized cabin that enable maneuvering and keep the habitat in operating conditions.

For the record, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy provides a far larger lift capacity as compared to the Falcon 9 and has only had two commercial take offs since its early 2018 successful test launch. The Heavy launch vehicle reportedly launched the Arabsat-6A in April 2019, followed by the STP-2 a few months later.

The Gateway lunar orbiter mission has been scheduled to take off in May 2024. However, there is a possibility that the date might slip due to potential delays. The complete Artemis program is going through a period of reality alignment, and while new target dates have not been scheduled for all the ambitious plans that were formulated over the last four years, few of the old dates have been repeated the way they were as lately as the last fall.

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