Space & Astronomy
Orbital plan for lunar space station unveiled
By T.K. Randall
July 21, 2019 · 1 comment
The new outpost will orbit the Moon. Image Credit: NASA
Mission planners at NASA and ESA have determined the orbital path of the upcoming lunar Gateway.
50 years on from Apollo 11's historic landing, mankind is planning a triumphant return to the lunar surface with the goal of not only walking on the Moon, but also living and working there.
The first step will be the construction of a new space station known as the Lunar Orbital Platform - Gateway (LOP-G) - a permanant manned outpost that will orbit the Moon.
By providing a safe haven in lunar orbit, the station will act as a home away from home for the astronauts who will be able to rest and resupply there between missions.
The station will also serve as an important staging area for future manned missions to Mars.
Now NASA and ESA have come forward to reveal the orbital path that the lunar Gateway will take and unlike Apollo 11, it's orbit will be highly elliptical - taking it as close as 3,000km from the Moon at its closest point and a whopping 70,000km at its furthest.
At present, the plan is for the lunar Gateway to be built in lunar orbit throughout the 2020s.
NASA is currently aiming to place a man and woman on the lunar surface by 2024.
"We can't wait to see this ambitious international endeavour realized," said ESA's Rolf Densing.
You can view an animation of the station's proposed orbit below.
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