Journey to Mars: NASA Identifies Deep Space 'Gateway'
The journey to Mars is not an easy one. NASA is searching for a pitstop or gateway from Earth before finally heading to the red planet. Reports say that a gateway near the lunar surface could serve as a training ground to test technologies for the deep space mission.
NASA officials say that the gateway will aid engineers to test and develop new technologies. So far, no exact estimates were given for the deep space gateway, but experts emphasized its importance to NASA and other agencies as well as private companies.
"I envision different partners, both international and commercial, contributing to the gateway and using it in a variety of ways with a system that can move to different orbits to enable a variety of missions," William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations said in a statement.
The gateway can also support robotic missions to the lunar orbit or the surface of the moon and "to support missions departing from the gateway to other destinations in the solar system," Gerstenmaier added.
The deep space gateway will prepare engineers and scientists for longer space missions like the journey to Mars. The new spaceport is allegedly being designed to be manned in order to assist docking spacecraft such as the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule.
It will be equipped with power bus, docking ports and crew habitat. It will also be run by a high power electric propulsion system. The three main components are the logistics module, the power and propulsion bus and the habitat module, according to Spaceref.
SLS and Orion will be used to assemble the gateway, taking advantage of its crew capsule and its payload capabilities. The spaceport will be equipped with an airlock that would allow it to fly on other exploration missions if need be.
The region near the moon was chosen since it offers a deep space environment to test NASA technologies. This will allow government and commercial industries to launch a deep space mission to the solar system.