NASA has awarded SpaceX a potential $331.8 million contract to launch a solar electric propulsion spacecraft and a crew cabin aboard the Falcon Heavy rocket for the agency’s mission to land astronauts on the moon in 2024.
SpaceX will aim to deploy the lunar Gateway‘s Power and Propulsion Element along with the Habitation and Logistics Outpost by May 2024 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the agency said Wednesday.
Maxar Technologies (NYSE: MAXR) received a $375 million contract in May 2019 to build the PPE bus with a 60-kilowatt solar array and Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) secured a $187 million contract in June 2020 to produce the HALO module.
Both systems will serve as the foundational elements of NASA’s lunar exploration outpost for the Artemis mission and undergo an integration process on the ground before deployment to space.
The PPE spacecraft is designed to power the Gateway and provide a communications relay for the deep space hub, while the pressurized HALO docking platform is intended to facilitate research on the lunar surface.
NASA added the crew cabin will supplement the Orion spacecraft’s life support systems as part of the moon mission. The agency envisions the Gateway in a near-rectilinear halo orbit accommodating astronauts, scientific investigations and visiting landers.