NASA has quietly decided to give Northrop Grumman a contract to build a “minimal” habitation module for its lunar Gateway after concluding it was the only company that could meet NASA’s schedule.
An ability to get on contract quickly and a price far lower that other companies were key factors in NASA’s decision to award a contract to Maxar Technologies for the first element of the lunar Gateway, the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE).
The Canadian Space Agency — NASA’s first international partner to commit to the lunar Gateway — is considering a faster schedule for its contributions to keep pace with NASA’s accelerated plans.
As NASA develops its plans to accelerate a human return to the surface of the moon, international partners are left wondering what roles, if any, they will have in that effort.
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.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency’s approach to moving up a human lunar landing from 2028 to 2024 will focus first on speed and then on sustainability.
The Canadian government will also try to cut the regulatory red tape the space industry has complained has hindered projects from moving forward.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement Wednesday that Canada would be partnering with NASA and spending 2 billion Canadian dollars ($1.4 billion) over 24 years on the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway and other space programs.
A five-week partial government shutdown could delay the launch of the first element of NASA’s orbiting lunar outpost by as much as three months.
NASA’s top official came to Canada to make his pitch for the country to become involved in a U.S.-lead lunar space mission but that direct appeal didn’t budge Canadian government officials, at least for now.