Five-week suspensionUS government agencies have delayed the development of the first element of the Gateway lunar orbital space station, NASA Aerospace Agency, for three months, according to Space News, referring to a document published February 26 on the US Federal Business Opportunity government procurement website. The delay will affect the launch time of the module, said the source.
According to the current concept (presented in 2018), the lunar orbital station Gateway will consist of 9 modules. In a NASA-published document, NASA notifies potential contracting organizations that the development of the first planned module, the electric motor (Power and Propulsion Element, PPE), has been postponed. The Agency has actually suspended its work and, in particular, the receipt of applications and design and technical proposals for a 35-day period in December and January of this year due to government “shatdown”. Initially, NASA was supposed to analyze all proposals and sign contracts with contractors for the development of components of the electric motor module in March, but now the agency reports that the expert commission of the project will be able to begin analyzing and evaluating proposals only by the end of May.
News source reports that the delay will causeThe “domino effect” seems to be at all stages of the development of the PPE module, including its design, assembly and testing, also being postponed to a later date and the expected date of its launch into space. A published NASA document states that the agency "in accordance with the change in schedule, postpones the launch time from September 2022 to a different date, but no later than December 31, 2022."
In mid-November last year, NASA announcedthe start of accepting applications for participation in the development of the PPE module. The agency decided to develop the module not on its own, but at the expense of one or several contractors with whom the agency is going to conclude the relevant contracts. All tasks for the development, creation and testing of the module will fall on them. According to the previously presented concepts, the module should have a mass of about 7-8 tons, be controlled by 12-kW ion engines and provide the station with energy of 40 kW produced by solar panels. Earlier requests from the agency indicated that the module would also use chemical engines operating on hydrazine, as well as have a tank containing 2000 kg of xenon. The calculated lifetime of the module must be at least 15 years. In addition, it is planned to use a communication station in the module.
Earlier this month, the agency reported thatagainst if future contractors propose using technologies that are already used in commercial communication satellites in the PPE module, but urged companies to avoid too specific proposals that may require a review of both the module concept and the estimated cost of its development.
"The electric motor module will be much likecommunication satellite, so we have eliminated all the stringent requirements that we usually put forward in the development of systems that should be used as part of vehicles intended for manned missions. In this way, we will be able to take advantage of the developments that the commercial communications industry already has, ”said Bill Gerstenmayer, manager of the program on space exploration by man during the NASA roundtable on February 14.
According to NASA, the proposed conditionscooperation with private companies will be beneficial immediately for all parties who will participate in the project. The agency will be able to quickly get a ready-made module, and companies, in turn, will get access to advanced technologies of propulsion systems, “which they will be able to use in their new generation satellites”.
You can discuss the news in our Telegram-chat.