NASA has announced that SpaceX will use its Falcon Heavy rocket to launch its Advanced Housing and Logistics Post (HALO) and the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), two “key” parts of the future Gateway station. The two components will be integrated into each other before launch, the date for which “will not be before” in May 2024.
Gateway is NASA’s ambitious outpost designed to orbit the Moon, where it will serve as a long-term intermediary station for humans on lunar missions and, in the more distant future, deep space exploration. The outpost remains the key aspect of the Artemis mission, which plans to return astronauts to the moon, among other things.
The HALO element of the Gateway will be pressurized housing for astronauts to live during their time at the outpost – in most cases, observes NASA, as a stop on their way to the Moon for future missions. This component will be the docking center of the station and will also function as its command and control center.
This aspect will play a big role in the Portal’s outpost, working to distribute energy, facilitate communications for lunar missions and visiting spacecraft, as well as supporting various scientific investigations. Integrated into HALO will be the PPE element, which is a class 60kW solar electric propulsion spacecraft.
This element will provide power and altitude control, in addition to providing communication resources. The PPE will also have the task of physically moving the Portal’s outpost to other orbits around the Moon, depending on the need, offering unprecedented access to the lunar surface.
When the time comes to launch the integrated elements, NASA says they will be delivered into space on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket from the 39A Launch Complex at Kennedy Space Center.