NASA just picked its first construction partner for the lunar Gateway.
On Thursday, the agency announced it had awarded a contract worth a maximum of $375 million to Maxar Technologies. The Colorado-based spacetech company will now have the responsibility of developing and demonstrating power, propulsion, and communications capabilities for the Moon-orbiting space station — an integral piece of the lunar Gateway project.
According to a NASA press release, the contract begins with a 12-month base period during which Maxar will design the power and propulsion element, which NASA describes in the release as “a high-power, 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft.”
After that, NASA can choose to exercise a series of options totaling 64 months for the craft’s development, launch, and in-space flight demonstration.
This contract is just the first of many NASA will award during the creation of the lunar Gateway. However, according to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, it’s an incredibly meaningful one.
“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,” Bridenstine said in a press release. “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.”
READ MORE: NASA Awards Artemis Contract for Lunar Gateway Power, Propulsion [NASA]
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