The Lunar Gateway

What is the Lunar Gateway?

The Lunar Gateway will be a space station orbiting the moon, built and deployed by a partnership between the following space agencies:

  • πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  • πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ CSA - Canadian Space Agency

  • πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Ί ESA - European Space Agency

  • πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅ JAXA - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

The Lunar Gateway will play a key role in future human space exploration and will support NASA's Artemis program. For more information about Artemis, see our Teacher's Corner at the end of this section.

Reasons for Building the Lunar Gateway

Some of the main reasons for building the Lunar Gateway and having it orbit the moon are:

  • Science experiments - It will be a place to research topics such as heliophysics (the sun and its effects on the solar system), human health and the effects of cosmic radiation outside of the protection of our planet's magnetic field and life sciences.

  • Test new technologies for space travel - Testing different equipment and procedures meant to be used in outer space is better done when in outer space, as it is very hard to fully simulate the required conditions on our planet.

  • Rendezvous location to explore the moon - It will help with the exploration of the lunar surface by different spacecraft that will use it as a docking station.

  • Mission control for lunar exploration - It will help coordinate and facilitate different missions on the lunar surface

  • Stepping stone for voyages to Mars - As we learn more about life in space and missions to the lunar surface becomes more common, we will be in a better position to support future travels beyond the moon, to Mars and beyond.

  • Astronomical observations of Earth and the stars

  • Expand the growing list of benefits to humanity from space travel - see Space Travel benefits to humanity

What makes the Lunar Gateway different from the International Space Station - ISS?

Even though they are both space stations, they are different in several important ways:

  • The Lunar Gateway is much farther away from our planet. The ISS is 400 kilometres from Earth and the Lunar Gateway will be 384,000 kilometres away from Earth.

  • The Lunar Gateway will be smaller, about one-sixth of the size of the ISS.

  • The Lunar Gateway will not be continuously crewed; it will have to depend on automated systems and remote intervention for its upkeep and maintenance.

That last point is a very good segue for us to talk about the main technologies that the Lunar Gateway will need to successfully operate in space with no continuous human intervention. We will explore these technologies in the next section, The Helpers.

🍎Teacher's Corner - Artemis program
  • this program will send the first woman and the first person of colour to walk on the surface of our moon.

  • The NASA-led Artemis program is a new chapter of lunar exploration designed to send humans farther into space than ever before.

    An international collaboration led by NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the participation of several companies, the program builds the expertise for a lasting return to the Moon. The program also lays an important foundation for deep-space exploration to more distant destinations like Mars. source

  • The Artemis program consists of three missions:

    • Artemis I - Uncrewed test flight (2022)

    • Artemis II - Crewed test flight (2024)

    • Artemis III - Crewed flight to the moon (2025)

🍎 Teacher's Corner - Space Travel benefits to humanity

There have been many inventions and benefits for humanity that have been developed out of space exploration. Some of them are:

  • Improving health care.

  • Protecting our planet and environment.

  • Creating scientific and technical jobs.

  • Improving our daily lives with technologies such as weather forecasting and telecommunications.

  • Making scientific discoveries.

  • Creating scientific interest in countless people.

  • Embracing international cooperation.

For more detailed information about this topic visit, Everyday benefits of space exploration.

Also, see a very powerful infographic provided by NASA here.

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