NASA’s vision of a space station orbiting the moon comes to life in new 3D video

Engineers are currently busy making the first parts of what will eventually become the Gateway Space Station. One day, if all goes according to plan, Gateway will serve as the first lunar orbiting space station, and the moon’s first true transportation hub. While not intended to be permanently inhabited, the station is being built to serve as an advanced base for astronauts on Artemis lunar missions through the 2030s and beyond.

And while it may seem like it at first NASA to project, gate is an international effort. Europe, Japan, Canada and the United Arab Emirates all contribute to the station.

Amid all the efforts to build this incredible space laboratory, NASA issued An artist’s 3D rendering of Gateway, showing what the station could look like if and when all goes well — complete with all the currently planned modules. We took a closer look. Here’s what we found out.


The heart of the station is the Residential and logistics outpost (HALO) module, a squat cylinder that will serve as half of Gateway’s crew compartment.

In contrast to the International Space Stationthat revolves SoilGateway will not be a permanent outpost in room. Instead, it will be more like a forward operating base. Beginning with the second manned Artemis mission, Artemis IV, astronauts will use Gateway as an operations center, living and working there when they’re not walking on it. the moon below.

Related: NASA’s Gateway, a space station orbiting the moon, explained in images

HALO will then be the command and communications module of Gateway. For times when Gateway is uninhabited, the module will contain software that will allow the station to run largely itself. HALO will also house some of Gateway’s science projects, such as instruments to measure the radiation level in the module.

We also see the tendril of HALO Canadarm3: a successor to the Canadian Space Agency iconic arm that now serves the International Space Station. When installed, Canadarm3 will be able to perform autonomous repairs.

2. PPE

On one side of HALO is Gateway’s Power and propulsion element (PPE). The station’s main power source, PPE, will rely on a pair of deployable solar panels to generate 60 kilowatts of electricity.

Not only will that electricity power the rest of the station’s needs, it will also power the station’s electrical propulsion system, which is located between the two solar panels. PPE will use that electricity to ionize xenon gas. Gateway will rely on that propulsion system to propel itself into a very eccentric job which is located at a distance of 3,000 to 70,000 kilometers (1,875 to 43,750 miles) from the lunar surface.

Together, HALO and PPE will be Gateway’s first seed. If all goes according to plan, they will reach the moon in time for Artemis IV, currently scheduled for launch in 2028.

3. Moon I-Hab

On the other side of HALO is a second squat cylinder, similar in size to HALO itself. This is the Moon I-Hab. Jointly built by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the I-Hab will serve as Gateway’s second crew module: the second half of the crew area.

True to the “hab” in its name, I-Hab will be the crew’s living and sleeping quarters. The four crew members of an Artemis mission will share a space about the size of the interior of a trailer. The module will contain a mess galley, plus bunk beds and an exercise area.

Mounted on the side of the I-Hab is an airlock shaped like a bubble that is attached to the outside of the module. This allows the crew to leave the station to space walksThe United Arab Emirates will provide this airlock.

Current plans call for Artemis IV to carry I-Hab to Gateway when it flies there in 2028.

4. Moon view

Back to HALO, moored to the side, we see the gilded cylinder of Moon view (until recently known as the European System Providing Refueling Infrastructure and Telecommunications, or ESPIRIT).

Another ESA-built module, Lunar View, will serve as an add-on package for the Gateway. Lunar View will only join HALO, PPE and I-Hab on a mission at a later date. The current programme includes Artemis V, scheduled for launch in 2030.

Lunar View is both functional and aesthetic. The functional part is the primary function of the module: extra storage. Lunar View will hold the cargo of a small van, undoubtedly a welcome addition to the rather cramped spaces of HALO and I-Hab. The module will also hold extra fuel for PPE.

The aesthetic part comes in the form of Gateway’s largest windows. Lunar View will feature six windows, arranged around the capsule and designed to withstand space debrisgiving the residents of Gateway a breathtaking view of the moon.

5. Spacecraft

The video not only shows the design of Gateway, but also a glimpse of what Gateway might one day look like when fully deployed as a lunar transit hub. Three spacecraft are attached to the station.

On the other side of the I-Hab is the Orion capsulethe mainstay of the Artemis missions and the vehicle that takes astronauts to and from Earth.

The cylinder attached to the side of I-Hab is the Deep Space Logistics (DLS) cargo spacecraft, which has a specialized docking port there. Each new Artemis mission will bring one to Gateway, carrying equipment, supplies, and science experiments that they will use during their mission. time to the moon.

Finally, on the back of HALO and Lunar View is the Human landing system (HLS) — the craft that, starting with Artemis IV, will actually take astronauts to the lunar surface.

6. Scientific experiments

In addition to astronauts, Gateway will house a handful of science payloads. Each new Artemis mission will bring a new set of experiments. NASA’s video shows two planned to fly on Gateway’s exterior.

The ESA supplied PPE is attached to the side of the PPE European Radiation Sensor Series (ERSA), a set of instruments for measuring space radiation outside the Earth’s shielding magnetic fieldIn fact, ERSA’s life will begin before it reaches Gateway, as it will measure the radiation that PPE experiences as it flies through the Earth. Van Allen belts.

— NASA’s space station orbiting the moon will be claustrophobic, architect says.

— Artemis 4 astronauts will be the first crew to use NASA’s Gateway in lunar orbit in 2028

— See the construction of NASA’s next-generation Lunar Gateway space station in a concept video

HALO is attached to NASA’s Heliophysics Experiment Suite for environmental and radiation measurements (HERMES), which will measure particles in the Earth’s atmosphere magnet tailEssentially the Earth is being plagued by solar windthe magnetotail passes the moon when the moon is in the right place in its orbit.

These experiments will tell us more about the solar system‘s high-energy environment, to be sure. But space agencies and scientists also hope to use the information gathered from these experiments to better prepare astronauts for much longer missions, much further into the future — manned voyages to Marsmaybe.

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