Unveiling Deep Space Gateway Plans, NASA Charts a Future Beyond the Moon
Late last year, NASA put out a call for papers to propose projects and experiments scientists would like to use the gateway for, and they got back over 190 submissions that covered everything from exoplanet research to lunar exploration.
"We are in the early design and development stages for the gateway, and we were curious about the level of interest in using this platform for science...We were impressed by the breadth of the abstract responses and invited scientists and engineers to a workshop to learn more," said Jason Crusan, the director of Advanced Exploration Systems at NASA.
One of the more obvious advantages to having a permanent space station in lunar orbit is that it gives NASA ready access to the moon, even the unexplored "far side": astronauts may be able to control rovers from the new station, as well as launch manned missions to the surface.
Though being far from the Earth's protective magnetosphere poses radiation risks for astronauts, it's also a chance to test equipment in a controlled environment before sending it out on potentially dangerous deep-space missions (like with the Orion spacecraft).
There's almost no end to the potential uses for the gateway.
It can be used to service spacecraft, assemble space telescopes, launch new cube satellites, and serve as a relay for lunar satellite communications.
For astronomers, it offers the chance to study the sun in greater depth and get a better vantage point on the Earth.
According to Crusan, "The gateway will help us return humans to the lunar surface, and expand human presence into the solar system. We now see the endless opportunities for it to play an important role for science in cislunar space as well. The enthusiasm from this workshop was awesome, and we look forward to keeping the conversation going."
Right now, the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (its official name) is planned to start construction in 2022.