International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

NASA’s Gateway Lunar Orbiting Outpost


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lunar Gateway, ISS

Mains level : Read the attached story

NASA recently finalised the contract for the initial crew module of the agency’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost.

Note the following things about the Lunar Gateway:

  1. Parent Agency and other agencies involved

  2. Missions and celestial bodies to be studied

  3. Difference between Gateway and ISS

What is NASA’s Gateway Lunar Orbit Outpost?

  • Essentially, the Gateway is a small spaceship that will orbit the Moon, meant for astronaut missions to the Moon and later, for expeditions to Mars.
  • While the project is led by NASA, the Gateway is meant to be developed, serviced, and utilized in collaboration with commercial and international partners: Canada (CSA), Europe (ESA), and Japan (JAXA).
  • The spaceship will have living quarters, laboratories for science and research and docking ports for visiting spacecraft.
  • Once docked to the Gateway, astronauts will be able to stay there for three months at a time, conduct science experiments and take trips to the surface of the Moon.

Features of the Gateway

  • One of the most unique features of the Gateway is that it can be moved to other orbits around the Moon to conduct more research.
  • The Gateway will act as an airport, where spacecraft bound for the lunar surface of Mars can refuel or replace parts and resupply things like food and oxygen, allowing astronauts to take multiple trips to the Lunar surface and exploration of new locations across the Moon.

How is it different from ISS?

  • Astronauts will use the Gateway at least once per year and not stay around the year as they do on the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Compared to the ISS, the Gateway is much smaller (the size of a studio apartment), while the ISS is about the size of a six-bedroom house.
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