In late October, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) finalised an agreement to collaborate on the ARTEMIS GATEWAY programme – an important element in a broad effort by the United States to engage international partners in sustainable lunar exploration and to demonstrate the technologies required for a future human mission to Mars. The agreement marks NASA’s first formal commitment to launch international crew members as part of NASA’s ARTEMIS missions..
ESA will contribute living and refuelling modules to the GATEWAY, along with enhanced lunar communications, and will also provide two additional European Service Modules (ESMs) for NASA’s ORION spacecraft, propelling and powering ORION on future ARTEMIS missions.
“This partnership leverages the outstanding cooperation established by the International Space Station as we push forward to the Moon,” commanted NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine. “GATEWAY will continue to expand NASA’s cooperation with international partners like ESA, ensuring the ARTEMIS program results in the safe and sustainable exploration of the Moon after the initial human lunar landing and beyond.”
“The GATEWAY is designed to be supplemented by additional capabilities provided by our international partners to support sustainable exploration,” added Kathy Lueders, NASA Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “GATEWAY is going to give us access to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and we’re pleased that partners like ESA will join us on these groundbreaking efforts.”
GATEWAY will be assembled in orbit around the Moon as a staging point and enabling platform for missions to the lunar surface, Mars, and other deep space destinations. Approximately one-sixth the size of the International Space Station, the GATEWAY will function as a waystation, from which NASA and its international and commercial partners will be able to springboard robotic and human expeditions to and around the Moon and on to Mars. It will serve as a rendezvous point for astronauts traveling to lunar orbit aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) and ORION prior to transit to low-lunar orbit and the surface of the Moon.
“GATEWAY is the physical manifestation of the international and commercial partnerships that will be the hallmark of the ARTEMIS era of exploration,” said Mike Gold, NASA Acting Associate Administrator for the Office of International and Interagency Relations. “ARTEMIS will harness the largest and most diverse human space exploration coalition in history, and the signing of this MoU is the first step in what will be a historic journey of discovery.”
All of Gateway’s international partners will collaborate to share the scientific data that will be transmitted to Earth. Additional scientific cooperative payloads will be selected to fly aboard the Gateway in the future.
“Science will play a critical role in the ARTEMIS program", said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. “Between NASA’s HERMES and ESA’s ERSA, these and future payloads on the GATEWAY will help us learn more about space weather and protecting astronauts even as our work to land commercial payloads on the Moon helps advance lunar science and human exploration on the surface of the Moon.”