Schematic overview of the lunar Gateway modules, a habitat, refueling and research centre for astronauts exploring our Moon as part of the Artemis programme.
Placed farther from Earth than the current Space Station the Gateway will offer a staging post for missions to the Moon. Its flight path is a highly-elliptical orbit around the Moon – bringing it both relatively close to the Moon’s surface but also far away making it easier to pick up astronauts and supplies from Earth – around a five-day trip.
ESA’s contribution to the Gateway includes I-Hab, the module will use environment and life-support systems provided by Japan’s space agency JAXA. A second contribution called ESPRIT, will supply enhanced communications, refuelling and a window somewhat like the European-built Cupola observatory on the International Space Station.
Transport to the Gateway will use NASA’s Orion spacecraft amongst others (seen docked), for which ESA is building the European Service Modules.
ESA's refueling and infrastructure and the telecommunication functions are provided by two different elements that will reach Gateway at different times. The two elements are:
- The HALO-Lunar Communication System - a communication system installed on NASA’s Habitation and Logistic module (HALO). The HALO-Lunar Communication System will allow the Gateway to communicate with astronauts and rovers on the Moon’s surface, in orbit and when close to the Gateway
- The European Refueling Module - a habitable space for astronauts with cargo space and fuel tanks to store propellant for the Gateway.