In a stunning and unexpected announcement on March 27th, 2020, NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, made the online announcement via twitter that the agency has selected Private Aerospace Company, Space X to be the first to fly Cargo Re-supply missions to NASA's Lunar Orbiting Gateway, in association with the new Artemis spaceflight program.
The twitter thread by Administrator Bridenstine goes on to explain that, similarly to the ISS Commercial Re-Supply contracts already awarded by NASA, the Artemis Gateway Logistic Services missions are a public/private joint effort that will ultimately expand commercial space economy moving forward.
In addition, NASA Public Affairs released a full statement on the nature of the partnership with Space X, detailing that "Space X will deliver critical pressurized and unpressurized cargo, science experiments and supplies to the Gateway, such as sample collection materials and other items the crew may need on the Gateway and during their expeditions on the lunar surface."
In the statement, we also begin to understand that Space X is only the first commercial launch provider to be awarded a Artemis Gateway Logistic Services contract, and that ANY recipient of said contract, is guaranteed two missions, with a maximum total program value of $7 billion across all contracts.
On Space X's side of the announcement, the private Aerospace company unveiled that they would be developing an entirely new version of their Dragon Cargo Spacecraft, called the Dragon XL (seen in the article thumbnail). The vehicle, which is now third in the Space X Dragon family, will be designed specifically for Lunar Orbit missions, and is currently set to launch atop of Space X's Heavy lift rocket, Falcon Heavy. Dragon XL will be capable of delivering over five metric tons of both pressurized and unpressurized cargo to Gateway, where it will be docked to the station for 6 to 12 months at a time, before presumably being discarded.
Artemis, the United States's latest effort to expand human space exploration, is currently set to land the first woman, and next man on the lunar south pole by 2024. NASA intends to use the full utilization of the Artemis Program's resources, its commercial partners resources, and international resources to ultimately sustain human colonization on our planets moon, before ultimately targeting Mars.
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