The International Space Station partners have endorsed plans to continue developing the lunar Gateway, a base for robot and astronaut exploration of the moon.
The Multilateral Coordination Board, which oversees the management of the Space Station, hopes that the Gateway, an outpost around the moon, will create a sustainable, cost-effective path to the Moon and beyond.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which is powered by the European Service Module, will transport astronauts to the Gateway by giving the crewed vehicle a final push to inject it into translunar orbit.
According to the European Space Agency, “the Gateway will offer a platform for scientific discovery in deep space and build invaluable experience for the challenges of future human missions to Mars.”
The significance of the lunar Gateway
David Parker, the European Space Agency’s human and robotic exploration director, said: “We are getting ready, together, to send humans farther into the Solar System than ever before. The lunar Gateway is the next big step in human exploration and we are working to make Europe a part of it. We will extend the presence of humans one thousand times farther into space compared to today’s International Space Station.”
According to the board, the Gateway “will stimulate the development of advanced technologies, expand the emerging space economy, and continue to leverage the societal benefits of space exploration for citizens on Earth.”
The Space Station: the benefits to humanity
The Gateway would not be possible without the International Space Station. The Space Station has had two decades of successful operations in orbit and is the world’s largest cooperative programme in science and technology, with over 100 countries having used it for research and education.
The statement concluded: “This international team has not only built the Space Station and risen to the challenges of its day-to-day dynamic operation, but – most importantly – delivered tangible benefits to humanity.”