SpaceX Lands Lunar Gateway Resupply Contract from NASA

Some good news in the midst of the COVID-19 world-wide pandemic: SpaceX has won a NASA contract for resupply missions to Lunar Gateway.

An official NASA announcement Tuesday stated that SpaceX had been awarded a contract to deliver pressurized and unpressurized loads to LG under the Artemis program. This deliver will be conducted using a modified Cargo Dragon capsule, such as is currently used for deliveries to the ISS. Capsules going to LG will remain on station for one full year before returning, as opposed to the current ISS strategy of berthing Dragon capsules for about one week.

Deliveries will make use of the Falcon Heavy launch system, which has few commercial customers needing SHLLV (super-heavy lift launch vehicle) capacity to orbit. Missions to LG will make use of that capacity to place Dragon plus fuel for the return journey into cislunar orbit. The modified Dragon will most likely place as much cargo on LG as is currently carried to ISS during resupply, about 6 tonnes (6,000 kg or 13,327 lbs).

As much of the world is experiencing some kind of stay-at-home order, we are all looking for positive news. This would definitely qualify as it shows that NASA is not only dealing with the pandemic as best they can, but are also looking toward the future. While the Artemis program is still very much in its infancy, NASA is still planning for a successful program. Public-private partnerships are the future of spaceflight. If anything positive came from the shuttering of the STS program (Space Shuttles) it is that it necessitated the development of private spaceflight companies which were ready to take on the challenge. SpaceX, ULA, and other newcomers have stepped up to the plate, and in that endeavor changed the game. We stand by ready to see the next new and exciting technology revolution that will come as a result.