NASA announced on Thursday that it has selected Colorado-based Maxar Technologies to develop and demonstrate power, propulsion and communications capabilities for its Lunar Gateway project. The contract begins with a 12-month base period followed by a 26-month option, a 14-month option and two 12-month options. During the base period, Maxar will be expected to design a 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft as the power and propulsion component of the Gateway. The options will be used for development, launch and in-space flight demonstration of the spacecraft if NASA chooses to continue with the design. The maximum total value of the contract is $375 million.
“The power and propulsion element is the foundation of Gateway and a fine example of how partnerships with U.S. companies can help expedite NASA’s return to the Moon with the first woman and next man by 2024,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “It will be the key component upon which we will build our lunar Gateway outpost, the cornerstone of NASA’s sustainable and reusable Artemis exploration architecture on and around the Moon.”
According to NASA, the Gateway concept involves placing a small spacecraft in orbit around the Moon to provide access to the lunar surface along with living quarters for astronauts, a science and research lab, and ports for visiting spacecraft.