The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has officially awarded Northrop Grumman with a contract worth $187 million to design the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO) of the Gateway, Engadget reported.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a U.S.-based global aerospace and defense technology provider company with annual revenue of around $30 billion. This group is touted as one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of weapons and providers of military technology.
In the press release on NASA’s official website, it stated, “Orbital Science Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Space, has been awarded $187 million to design the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO) for the Gateway, which is part of NASA’s Artemis program and will help the agency build a sustainable presence at the Moon.”
The administration added, “This award funds HALO’s design through its preliminary design review, expected by the end of 2020.”
Engadget’s Mariella Moon wrote the HALO cabin will have a size similar to a small studio apartment. Once completed, it will offer life support for the crew, and with the Orion spacecraft by NASA.
The design is based on the Cygnus spacecraft, which presently delivers supplies to the ISS. The assembly will happen on Earth, before making its way to space.
“This contract award is another significant milestone in our plan to build robust and sustainable lunar operations,” NASA’s Jim Bridenstine said. “The Gateway is a key component of NASA’s long-term Artemis architecture, and the HALO capability furthers our plans for human exploration at the Moon in preparation for future human missions to Mars.”
Previously, the space station already awarded Maxar, a space tech company with $375 million worth of contract to develop similar products in 2019. However, the agency confirmed they plan to launch both of these simultaneously to reduce costs and technical risks. When successful, it will take away the necessity to dock two different elements in the orbit where Gateway is expected to operate.
With these funds, the systems and subsystems will be designed prior to the preliminary review. The completion is expected to happen by the end of 2020. Afterward, the company is to sign a second contract that details the assembly of the actual HALO module scheduled to travel to space in 2023.
“We’re making significant progress on these first two elements, including incorporation of components from ESA (European Space Agency), the Canadian Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and payloads from our research communities,” said Dan Hartman, NASA’S Johnson Space Center Gateway program manager.
Hartman added, “The new plan to integrate the two elements of Gateway demonstrates the agency’s capabilities and our partners’ ability to be flexible and reassess plans as needed. By launching the elements together, we’re able to reduce Gateway’s risk profile and increase cost-effectiveness significantly.” Stay tuned with NASA and tech websites for more updates.