NASA and the European Space Agency announced a partnership to build the Artemis Gateway, the space station that will orbit the Moon. The project is one of the next steps for the exploration of Earth’s natural satellite, which made headlines recently after the discovery of new water molecules on its surface.
In addition to assisting in lunar exploration, the construction will also be useful for future human missions to Mars and other locations in the Solar System. As the trip to the red planet is long, the station that orbits the Moon may take more resources for the crews.
According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, ESA is not the only partner in the ambitious Artemis project. Within the next few months, more international contracts are expected to be announced to support the initiative. Still this month, seven countries signed an agreement involving the exploration of the Moon.
According to the NASA executive, the new Artemis project agreement extends the partnerships and cooperations made with the International Space Station. “Gateway will continue to expand NASA’s cooperation with international partners like ESA, ensuring that the Artemis program results in the safe and sustainable exploration of the Moon after the initial human lunar landing and beyond.”
The partnership between different nations will not only be on paper and will be present throughout the construction of the new space station. In addition to the NASA and ESA structure, the housing module includes components made in Japan and has a design that includes the implementation of extra technologies from other countries.
The collaboration promises to guarantee a life support system capable of assisting astronauts on long missions to the Moon and exploring in more detail the surface of the natural satellite. “The Gateway is the physical manifestation of international and commercial partnerships that will be the hallmark of the Artemis era of space exploration,” explains a NASA statement.
While the Artemis program has great ambitions, the trend is that it will take some time to see the fruits of this international collaboration. According to NASA, the station’s initial objective is to provide support for the human landing on the Moon that will occur in 2024 and, until then, it will be used for scientific studies that can help in the mission.