NASA picks SpaceX Falcon Heavy to launch 1st Gateway station pieces to the moon
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has selected SpaceX to deliver the first two segments of the moon-orbiting Gateway space station for its upcoming Artemis program, which aims to put astronauts back on the moon. The elements will launch atop a Falcon Heavy rocket, sometime in 2024.
The flight, which is the second to be awarded to SpaceX this week (the first was a contract worth $98.8 million to launch NASA’s SPHEREx astrophysics mission) will carry the Gateway’s power and habitation modules. Launching from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the mission will cost NASA $331.8 million and is scheduled to blast off no earlier than May 2024.
Once deposited in lunar orbit, the Gateway will serve as an outpost for astronauts and equipment heading to the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. Roughly one-sixth the size of the International Space Station, the Gateway will support research investigations, crew, and expeditions to the lunar surface.