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NASA picks Maxar to built its first lunar space station

NASA confirmed on Thursday that it chooses the space technology company Maxar frormerly known as Space System Loral (SSL), to build its first lunar Gateway station.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) taps Maxar Technologies to be its first contractor to build its Gateway station. “The contractor that will be building that element is …… Maxar,” Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator said. “Maxar is going to be building that for the United States of America.”

The contract includes a total of $375 million which begins with a 12-month base period of performance and is followed by a 26-month option, a 14-month option and two 12-month option. Maxar is the first profitable partner who will work on Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), a lunar orbiting station.

“The power and propulsion element is the foundation of Gateway and a fine example of how partnerships with U.S. companies can help expedite NASA’s return to the Moon with the first woman and next man by 2024. It will be the key component upon which we will build our lunar Gateway outpost, the cornerstone of NASA’s sustainable and reusable Artemis exploration architecture on and around the Moon,” Bridenstine said.

PPE will house the 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft. According to NASA, the Gateway provides a communications relay for human and robotic expeditions to the lunar surface, starting at the Moon’s the South Pole.

The Gateway is a small space station that we will put in orbit around the moon,” said Bridenstine. “Think of it as a reusable command and service module that will be in orbit around the moon for 15 years, and the first element is the Power and Propulsion Element.”

Maxar’s most famous was the Canadarm that is used on NASA’s Space Shuttle and the Canadarm2 and Dextre remote manipulator systems used on the International Space Station.
“We’re excited to demonstrate our newest technology on the power and propulsion element. Solar electric propulsion is extremely efficient, making it perfect for the Gateway,” said Mike Barrett, PPE’s project manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. “This system requires much less propellant than traditional chemical systems, which will allow the Gateway to move more mass around the Moon, like a human landing system and large modules for living and working in orbit.”

PPE’s demonstration and development will be the first step of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.