This week NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) finalized an agreement between the United States and Canada to collaborate on building a Lunar Gateway, which will be like the Space Station orbiting Earth. The agency states the Lunar Gateway Station will orbit the Moon to "provide vital support for a sustainable, long-term return of astronauts to the lunar surface as part of NASA’s Artemis program. This Gateway agreement further solidifies the broad effort by the United States to engage international partners in sustainable lunar exploration as part of the Artemis program and to demonstrate technologies needed for human missions to Mars,” NASA wrote in a press release. The Artemis program is the agency’s plan to take the first woman and next man to the lunar surface and build a permanent base in the year 2024.
As we work to enable long-term exploration of the Moon, @NASA has finalized an agreement with Canada to collaborate on the #Artemis program's lunar Gateway >> https://t.co/wnauzAt5WQ @NASAArtemis pic.twitter.com/8ikqSorIhL— NASA Marshall (@NASA_Marshall) December 17, 2020
Under the space treaty CSA and NASA signed this week, Canada agreed to build an external robotics systems for the modules, including develop a next-generation robotic arm, known as Canadarm3. In exchange, NASA agreed to provide two Canadian astronauts an opportunity to ride along during on Artemis missions, one to the Gateway Station and one on the second planned mission to the moon's surface, Artemis II. “Canada was the first international partner to commit to advancing the Gateway in early 2019, they signed the Artemis Accords in October, and now we’re excited to formalize this partnership for lunar exploration,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on December 16. “This agreement represents an evolution of our cooperation with CSA providing the next generation of robotics that have supported decades of missions in space on the space shuttle and International Space Station, and now, for Artemis.”
We are happy to welcome Canada and @csa_asc to the lunar gateway with @NASA! @StateDept will continue to build on the success of the @Space_Station and further our space exploration endeavors with our international partners. https://t.co/pJCDNUEbxy— U.S. Department of State | Science Diplomacy USA (@SciDiplomacyUSA) December 16, 2020
Earlier this year, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract to develop a custom Dragon spacecraft to deliver cargo to Lunar Gateway under a ‘Gateway Logistics Services’ (GLS) contract. The aerospace company will be the first cargo carrier to the future Lunar Gateway station. SpaceX's most powerful rocket, Falcon Heavy, will be tasked to launch a new spacecraft called 'Dragon XL' to the lunar station under the agency's GLS contract. NASA revealed a render of SpaceX's new Dragon XL spacecraft, that will be capable of carrying more than 5-metric-tons to the moon's orbit (pictured below). Dragon XL will take vital cargo, supplies and equipment that will be needed at the Gateway station in order to maintain a sustainable human presence on the lunar surface.
All Images Source: NASA/SpaceX
NASA is planning multiple supply missions to lunar orbit in which the Dragon XL spacecraft will stay at the Gateway for six to twelve months at a time. “Returning to the Moon and supporting future space exploration requires affordable delivery of significant amounts of cargo,” said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell. “Through our partnership with NASA, SpaceX has been delivering scientific research and critical supplies to the International Space Station since 2012, and we are honored to continue the work beyond Earth’s orbit and carry Artemis cargo to Gateway,” she stated.
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.