BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) — To the moon — and beyond.
A new partnership just announced by NASA makes it official that the space agency is very much in the business of getting back to the moon.
The announcement also gives us fresh details about the new space station, which will orbit the moon and allow landings on the lunar surface.
A return to the moon has been a topic of conversation along the Space Coast for many years, but now, NASA’S going further than talk. A finalized contract with Northrop Grumman puts in motion the creation of the Habitation and Logistics Outpost, or HALO.
Dale Ketcham of Space Florida said NASA’s new deal is a major step in its Artemis program and what it’s calling Gateway — essentially, another space station— but for the moon, and beyond.
“Building the basic transportation infrastructure that the Artemis program to go back to the moon will require,” Ketcham said.
The next spacecraft, the Orion, isn’t built solely for just a return trip to the moon, NASA has made clear, but more so for maintaining a presence.
The outpost is critical. HALO is where astronauts will live and conduct research.
If its completion is anything like the original international space station, its components will be brought to the Space Coast, integrated and delivered to space on rockets from there.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, will be an awful lot of work to be done here and this is where we do it,” Ketcham said.
Also critical, Ketcham said, is keeping up, since the U.S. is not the only nation developing a new station.
“The Chinese now have their astronauts on their space station orbiting above us every day as well,” Ketcham said. “India is looking to get its space station going. The Russians are looking at a new one they’ll do on their own. It’s getting busy up there, the competition is fierce.”
HALO will also be the hub for expansion and potential missions to Mars.
HALO’s design is modeled after Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft, which has completed 15 supply missions to the international space station.