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posted by martyb on Sunday March 03 2019, @09:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the Whatever-happened-to-the-six-million-dollar-*man*? dept.

Gateway Moon station: Canada joins Nasa space project

Canada will contribute US$1.4bn to a proposed Nasa space station that will orbit the Moon and act as a base to land astronauts on its surface.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the step would "push the boundaries of innovation".

The space station, called Gateway, is a key element in Nasa's plan to return to the Moon with humans in the 2020s.

As part of the 24-year commitment, Canada will build a next-generation robotic arm for the new lunar outpost.

"Canada is going to the Moon," Mr Trudeau told a news conference at Canadian Space Agency's headquarters near Montreal, according to AFP.

*Canada is going near the Moon.

Also at CBC and Popular Mechanics.

Previously: Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway
China Will Focus on a Lunar Surface Station Rather than a Lunar Orbiting Station
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Could Launch Japanese and European Payloads to Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
Head of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Wavers on Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
Is the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway the Right Way to the Moon?

Related: Future of U.S.-Russian Space Cooperation in Doubt
ESA Plans to Send Mining Equipment to the Moon

Original Submission

Related Stories

Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway 8 comments

Deep Space Gateway (DSG) is a planned space station in lunar orbit. The U.S. and Russia signed an agreement last year to work on the station's development. Now Russia has created an engineering department inside the RKK Energia space corporation in order to plan the nation's lunar exploration, including a possible manned landing:

Officially, Moscow has been on a path to put a human on the Moon since 2013, when President Putin approved a general direction for human space flight in the coming decade. The program had been stalling for several years due to falling prices for oil, the main source of revenue for the Russian budget. Last year, however, the Russian lunar exploration effort was given a new impetus when the Kremlin made a strategic decision to cooperate with NASA on the construction of a habitable outpost in the orbit around the Moon, known as Deep Space Gateway, DSG.

Although the US saw the primary goal of the DSG as a springboard for missions to Mars, NASA's international partners, including Russia, have been pushing the idea of exploring the Moon first. On the Russian side, RKK Energia led key engineering studies into the design of the DSG and participated in negotiations with NASA on sharing responsibilities for the project.

To coordinate various technical aspects of lunar exploration, the head of RKK Energia Vladimir Solntsev signed an order late last year to form Center No. 23Ts, which would report directly to him. According to a document seen by Ars Technica, the group will be responsible for developing long-term plans for human missions to the vicinity of the Moon and to its surface, as well as for implementing proposals for international cooperation in lunar missions. This is a clear signal that NASA might soon have a new liaison in Russia for all things related to the DSG. The same group will also take care of all the relevant domestic interactions between RKK Energia and its subcontractors.

Unlike the ISS, the DSG should not require any orbital boost burns and could reach any altitude above the Moon using ion thrusters.

Here are two op-eds from last year about the Deep Space Gateway:

Terry Virts: The Deep Space Gateway would shackle human exploration, not enable it

John Thornton: The Deep Space Gateway as a cislunar port

Related articles:

Original Submission

China Will Focus on a Lunar Surface Station Rather than a Lunar Orbiting Station 17 comments

Chinese space official seems unimpressed with NASA's lunar gateway

This week, the European and Chinese space agencies held a workshop in Amsterdam to discuss cooperation between Europe and China on lunar science missions. The meeting comes as Europe seems increasingly content to work with China on spaceflight programs.

Although the meeting is not being streamed online, space systems designer and lunar exploration enthusiast Angeliki Kapoglou has been providing some coverage of the meeting via Twitter. Among the most interesting things she has shared are slides from a presentation by Pei Zhaoyu, who is deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration.

[...] Overall, Pei does not appear to be a fan of NASA's plan to build a deep space gateway, formally known as the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, at a near-rectilinear halo orbit. Whereas NASA will focus its activities on this gateway away from the Moon, Pei said China will focus on a "lunar scientific research station."

[...] So far, NASA has yet to finalize commitments with Europe, Russia, or other International Space Station partners on contributions to the gateway. While European officials are interested, it seems like they may also be willing to go along with China if that country has a more direct plan to land humans on the Moon.

Related: NASA Could Scale Down First Manned Flight of the SLS
2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration
This Week in Space Pessimism: SLS, Mars, and Lunar Gateway

Original Submission

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Could Launch Japanese and European Payloads to Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway 17 comments

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy eyed by Europe/Japan

According to RussianSpaceWeb, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is under serious consideration for launches of major European and Japanese payloads associated with the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (formerly the Deep Space Gateway).

[...] The first payload considering Falcon Heavy for launch services is the Japanese Space Agency's (JAXA) HTV-X, and upgraded version of a spacecraft the country developed to assist in resupplying the International Space Station (ISS). HTV-X is primarily being designed with an ISS-resupply role still at the forefront, but RussianSpaceWeb recently reported that JAXA is seriously considering the development of a variant of the robotic spacecraft dedicated to resupplying the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOPG; and I truly wish I were joking about both the name and acronym).

[...] Regardless of the LOPG's existential merits, a lot of energy (and money) is currently being funneled into planning and initial hardware development for the lunar station's various modular segments. JAXA is currently analyzing ways to resupply LOPG and its crew complement with its HTV-X cargo spacecraft, currently targeting its first annual ISS resupply mission by the end of 2021. While JAXA will use its own domestic H-III rocket to launch HTV-X to the ISS, that rocket simply is not powerful enough to place a minimum of ~10,000 kg (22,000 lb) on a trans-lunar insertion (TLI) trajectory. As such, JAXA is examining SpaceX's Falcon Heavy as a prime (and affordable) option: by recovering both side boosters on SpaceX's drone ships and sacrificing the rocket's center core, a 2/3rds-reusable Falcon Heavy should be able to send as much as 20,000 kg to TLI (lunar orbit), according to comments made by CEO Elon Musk.

That impressive performance would also be needed for another LOPG payload, this time for ESA's 5-6 ton European System Providing Refueling Infrastructure and Telecommunications (ESPRIT) lunar station module. That component is unlikely to reach launch readiness before 2024, but ESA is already considering Falcon Heavy (over its own Ariane 6 rocket) in order to save some of the module's propellant. Weighing 6 metric tons at most, Falcon Heavy could most likely launch ESPRIT while still recovering all three of its booster stages.

Previously: NASA's Chief of Human Spaceflight Rules Out Use of Falcon Heavy for Lunar Station

Related: NASA and International Partners Planning Orbital Lunar Outpost
Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway
This Week in Space Pessimism: SLS, Mars, and Lunar Gateway

Original Submission

Head of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Wavers on Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway 33 comments

Russia throws doubt on joint lunar space station with U.S.: RIA

Moscow may abandon a project to build a space station in lunar orbit in partnership with U.S. space agency NASA because it does not want a "second fiddle role," a Russian official said on Saturday.

[...] [The] head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said Russia might exit the joint program and instead propose its own lunar orbit space station project.

[...] A spokesman for Roscosmos said later that Russia had no immediate plans to leave the project. "Russia has not refused to take part in the project of the lunar orbit station with the USA," Vladimir Ustimenko was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.


Also at ABC (Associated Press).



Original Submission

Future of U.S.-Russian Space Cooperation in Doubt 15 comments

Russia Wants to Extend U.S. Space Partnership. Or It Could Turn to China.

The American incentives for engaging with Russia in space in the 1990s — political goals like the employment of idle rocket scientists to prevent missile proliferation — have mostly disappeared with the resumption of tensions. The Trump administration has already proposed that by 2025 the United States should stop supporting the International Space Station that is the principal joint project today. A final decision is up to Congress. The American role might be shifted to a commercial footing thereafter.

[...] [It] is unclear how much longer the post-Soviet era of space cooperation between the United States and Russia can last in the more hostile environment now surrounding relations. In the interview, [Dmitri O. Rogozin, the director of Russia's space agency,] said Russia wanted to carry on joint flights with the United States and its allies, despite the tensions over election interference, wars in Syria and Ukraine, and the chemical weapons poisoning of a former double agent in Britain.

[...] Analysts say Moscow has a strong incentive to maintain the joint program: a decided lack of money to pursue a lunar station on its own. Russia's budget for its space program is something less than one-10th what the United States spends on NASA. [...] Russia's preference is to press on with a space program entwined with the United States', on either the lunar program or another venture, Mr. Rogozin said. But if talks fail, Russia can turn to China or India for partnership. There might then be two stations circling the Earth or the moon, one led by the United States the other a Russian-Chinese enterprise. Mr. Rogozin even floated the idea of a "BRIC station," the acronym for the developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Mr. Rogozin in November ordered the Russian Academy of Sciences to study the prospects for a solo Russian program to build a habitable base on the surface of the moon. Ivan M. Moiseyev, the director of the Institute of Space Policy in Moscow, said in a telephone interview that any proposal for a lone Russian lunar station was fantastical, given the budget constraints. "The technical capability exists, but the finances don't."

The U.S. and NASA could develop stronger partnerships with the European Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Indian Space Research Organisation instead.


Related: Price War Between SpaceX and Russia

Original Submission

Is the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway the Right Way to the Moon? 34 comments

Submitted via IRC for takyon

An article at asks Is the Gateway the right way to the moon? — the "Gateway" is The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 17, 2018 issue of SpaceNews magazine.

Sometime in 2028, competing for attention alongside a presidential election and the return of the Summer Olympics to Los Angeles, NASA will return humans to the surface of the moon.

A lunar lander will depart the cluster of modules in an elliptical orbit around the moon, called Gateway, and descend. One stage will take the lander to a low lunar orbit and then separate, after which the descent module will handle the rest of the journey to the lunar surface. A crew of up to four will spend days — perhaps up to two weeks — on the surface before boarding the ascent module, which will take them back to the Gateway.

At least that’s NASA’s plan for now. A year after President Donald Trump formally directed NASA to return humans to the moon in Space Policy Directive (SPD) 1, the agency has developed the outlines of a plan to carry that out, while emphasizing the language in the policy to do so in a “sustainable” manner and with international and commercial partners. But as the agency describes two of the biggest elements of the plan, the Gateway and a “human-class” lunar lander, it’s still struggling to sell the proposal to its various stakeholders, including its own advisers.

[The somewhat long article is well worth a read. Notable members of NASA as well as former astronauts weigh in on their views of the pros and cons of such an approach as opposed to direct flights to and from the moon. To my eye, NASA was instructed to make the Deep Space Gateway happen so there was a destination for the Space Launch System (SLS) which currently costs something like $2 billion per year in launch and development costs. By comparison, I recall reading that SpaceX anticipates it can develop its next-generation Big 'Falcon' Rocket (BFR) and Big 'Falcon' spaceship (BFS) — now called "Super Heavy" and "Starship", respectively — for about $2 billion total. --martyb]

Original Submission

ESA Plans to Send Mining Equipment to the Moon 10 comments

The European Space Agency plans to start mining for natural resources on the moon

The European Space Agency plans to start mining for water and oxygen on the moon by 2025.

The agency announced Monday it has signed a 1-year contract with European aerospace company ArianeGroup to explore mining regolith, also known as lunar soil or moon dust.

Water and oxygen can be extracted from regolith, potentially making it easier for humans to spend time on the moon in the future, according to ArianeGroup. The research could also make it possible to produce rocket fuel on the moon, enabling future expeditions to go further into space, the aerospace company said.

[...] The mission would be a collaboration between aerospace scientists and technicians in France, Germany and Belgium. The project is now in the research phase, with scientists hoping to use an Ariane 64 rocket in coming years to send mining equipment to the moon.

Previously: New ESA Head Wörner: 'We Could Build All Kinds of Things with Moon Concrete'
ESA Expert Envisions "Moon Village" by 2030-2050

Related: Moon Base Could Cost Just $10 Billion Due to New Technologies
How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
Who Owns The Moon? A Space Lawyer Answers

Original Submission

Lockheed Martin Proposes Streamlined Lunar Gateway for 2024 Manned Lunar Landing 12 comments

Lockheed Martin offers architecture for 2024 human lunar landing

Lockheed Martin says it has developed an approach to achieving the goal of landing humans on the south pole of the moon by 2024, but warns that construction of essential hardware would have to start soon to meet that deadline.

In a briefing at the 35th Space Symposium here April 10, company officials said they can make extensive use of existing hardware to develop components like a scaled-down version of the lunar Gateway and a two-stage lunar lander on an accelerated schedule.

While many details have yet to be worked out, the basic elements of the plan, Lockheed argues, demonstrates that the ability to meet the 2024 deadline established March 26 by Vice President Mike Pence in a National Space Council speech is at least technically feasible, if challenging.

[...] Lockheed's plan would diverge from NASA's old approach after Exploration Mission (EM) 1, an uncrewed test of the Orion spacecraft launched by the Space Launch System in 2020. The company proposes launching a "Phase 1" Gateway in 2022 consisting of just the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and a small habitation module with docking ports. NASA expects to issue awards for the PPE in May, while the habitation module could be adapted from ongoing studies that are part of NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, or NextSTEP, program.

Also at

See also: Falcon Heavy's first commercial flight is 'huge' as 'an inflection point' for SpaceX, banker says

Previously: Is the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway the Right Way to the Moon?
Canada Will Contribute to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
Here's Why NASA's Audacious Return to the Moon Just Might Work

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday March 03 2019, @09:47AM (5 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 03 2019, @09:47AM (#809365) Journal

    Well, hell, it's going to cost that much to haul a Canadian polar bear up there, with enough food to keep him healthy.

    Whoops, my mistake. Need enough food the keep HER healthy, and her cubs when she gives birth. Canada is looking for the "First female to give birth in space" headline. The following TV season, we'll be inundated with broadcasts from the north. "Cubs in Space!"

    • (Score: 2, Offtopic) by realDonaldTrump on Sunday March 03 2019, @10:52AM

      by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Sunday March 03 2019, @10:52AM (#809378) Homepage Journal

      Justin has a Cabinet full of women. And men. He did half and half. Because he likes it that way. He likes both. And that's O.K. Let me tell you, I'm breaking the glass ceiling on behalf of women. In space, the Universe and the everywhere else. Russia, many years ago, sent a woman to space. They sent their best -- Valentina. But, she wasn't a soldier. We're sending our great, and very brave soldiers. True WAR fighters -- true warriors. Space Force. I'm working as hard as I can to get that one started. It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space. America First!!!!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04 2019, @12:17AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04 2019, @12:17AM (#809618)

      Trudeau would happily pay $1.4 billion to send his former attorney-general to space. She fucked him real good!

      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday March 04 2019, @12:33AM (2 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 04 2019, @12:33AM (#809624) Journal

        That will work too. Can you get her pregnant in time for launch? Do the math, now - we want her at about 8 months at liftoff!

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04 2019, @01:22AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04 2019, @01:22AM (#809641)

          If you've seen her picture, you'll know the answer is no. She's half Indian, half buffalo.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03 2019, @12:51PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03 2019, @12:51PM (#809395)

    They came up with one okish pun and plan to coast on that until the singularity it seems. []

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03 2019, @02:07PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03 2019, @02:07PM (#809415)

    A smart old engineer I know mentioned that he worked at Iowa State in the '50s and was a bit player in James van Allen's discovery/mapping of the radiation belts trapped by Earth's magnetic field. Based on the strength of the radiation (it's very strong), this guy is convinced that no one could have gone to the Moon and survived the radiation dosage. Thus, he's in the "Moon landing faked" camp, even claims that some astronauts nearly drowned while filming scenes underwater...

    Without knowing much beyond what I've read casually, I can accept that the combination of choosing a path through a thinner area of radiation (away from the Equator), plus some shielding, kept the dose to an acceptable level.

    Any one know if radiation has been discussed relative to current plans for people to go back to the Moon?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03 2019, @05:13PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03 2019, @05:13PM (#809466)

    According to Space News, Canadian aerospace companies have been lobbying government for years for a new investment for space programmes.

    Key to the construction and utilisation of Gateway is the Orion capsule, built by Lockheed Martin, which will eventually transport crews to the orbiting outpost and dock with it.

    Orion will be launched on the new, heavy-lift SLS rocket, which is derived in part from technology developed for the space shuttle programme.
    spacebased-pork-BBQ, eventually, in the near future, someday, maybe?

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Sunday March 03 2019, @05:30PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Sunday March 03 2019, @05:30PM (#809475) Journal []

      The SLS will continue that tradition of costing more for no gain. SLS will cost $2-5 billion per launch versus about $20-100 million for SpaceX Falcon Heavy with 4 boosters or a SpaceX BFR.

      [...] NASA Space Launch system is reusing and modifying Shuttle rockets and facilities. SLS and Orion will cost the United States more than $30 billion dollars before it has completed a single full launch. This will go over $40 billion by the time the system is ready to launch NASA astronauts.

      $14 billion has been spent on the rockets between 2011 and 2018. This does not include billions more spent refurbishing and modifying aging Saturn and Shuttle-derived launch infrastructure at Kennedy Space Center.

      Orion’s development has cost the U.S. about $16 billion since 2006. $4-6 billion more will be spent between now and 2023. This does not include the costs of production and operations once development is complete.

      The Orion space capsule is NOT capable of landing on the Moon, much less Mars. The capsule can dock with an intermediate orbiting space station off-planet (the Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway). Operating on the moon or Mars with SLS will require a new lander. The Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway is an updated version of the International Space Station. The ISS cost $150 billion to build. The Lunar Orbital Gateway will have fewer modules but will easily cost $40 billion.

      A pile of burning tires, pork, and poop.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03 2019, @09:53PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03 2019, @09:53PM (#809555)

    He'll be gone in October if not sooner. Ironically, he got fucked by a woman.

  • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Monday March 04 2019, @01:00AM

    by Gaaark (41) on Monday March 04 2019, @01:00AM (#809634) Journal

    He probably just tweeted "Hey NASA, let's DO this!"

    What. a. twat.

    The only thing worse than having him in government is that when he's tossed out it will probably be a conservative government that will be worse.

    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Monday March 04 2019, @03:16AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <> on Monday March 04 2019, @03:16AM (#809674) Homepage Journal

    Of course it's plainly apparent that to supply fuel in LEO orbit or in Lunar Orbit is what we want.

    But nobody ever mentions why that's never been so much as talked about:

    To launch so very much liquid fuel, to handle such large, inertially-massive tanks of liquid gas would be dangerous.

    Just imaging that one hundred tons of LO2 were drifting in your general direction at one inch per second.

    Yes I Have No Bananas. []
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04 2019, @03:32PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 04 2019, @03:32PM (#809804)

    > Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the step would "push the boundaries of innovation".

    He's gonna send prostitutes to the moon?