NASA Calls On Private Industry To Ship Cargo To Moon-Based Space Station
NASA is seeking out private companies to ship cargo to a new space station that as planned will orbit the moon.
Gateway is the name of the space station that the space agency says will orbit the moon and serve as a last stop for astronauts headed for the lunar surface.
NASA will need to get supplies to the station first and is calling on private companies for proposals. Kennedy Space Center will head the search for Gateway Logistics Services (LGS) awards. NASA’s Mark Wiese said the agency hopes the $7 billion set aside for the contracts will drive competition within the private space industry.
“We set up this contract to enable multiple awards. We would love to have multiple providers, we want to drive that commercial competition. We have the ability within the contract to open it up even after we award and bring in more providers along the way.”
Managers at Kennedy Space Center plan to announce the awards by the end of this year and wants to see the first shipments launch mid-2024. “Ideally, we expect everything to go from Florida, but we’re open to whatever solution industry brings forward that provides the best solution to the government,” said Wiese.
NASA will use the providers to ship consumables to the station — like food and water — along with things like science experiments. According to the request for proposals, the capsules must be launched on commercial rockets and built to withstand a six month stay at Gateway.
The lunar station will help NASA land humans on the moon. The Trump administration charged the agency with landing humans on the moon by the end of 2024.
NASA awarded a contract for the development and launch of Gateway’s first module and is turning to other private companies to develop the lunar lander that will transport astronauts from Gateway to the lunar surface.
The space agency already works with private companies SpaceX and Northrop Grumman to launch supplies to the International Space Station.
“This solicitation builds on the capabilities NASA pioneered in low-Earth orbit with commercial cargo resupply to the International Space Station and is the next step in commercialization of deep space,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We look forward to industry’s response to our latest solicitation.”
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