At current NASA plans to launch the multi-cargo provide missions to the Gateway which is within the plan of building, with the spacecraft created to go to the station and tends to stay there for about 6 to 12 months.
In support of this, NASA is arranging for a number of cargo missions that will visit the Gateway and stay there for between six months and a year. The company is guaranteed two missions under its newly announced Gateway Logistics Services contract.
NASA first announced it was looking for companies to deliver cargo to the upcoming lunar station last summer; SpaceX is the first to be awarded a contract. SpaceX is already awarded by NASA to ship regular supply runs to the International Space Station (ISS) in Earth orbit using its Dragon cargo spacecraft.
SpaceX's upcoming test flight of its Crew Dragon spacecraft will be the first-ever crewed mission using the company's hardware.
Akin to Dragon missions to the ISS, Dragon XL will deliver critical pressurized and unpressurized cargo, science experiments and supplies to the Gateway.
But Gateway is still an important feature of the Artemis program, and Dragon XL will "pick up all the crew items, it will bring out research, it's likely to bring up the EVA suits", said Dan Hartman, Gateway's program manager at Johnson Space Center.
The Gateway will be a base and staging area from which missions can be launched, first to the moon and eventually to Mars.
"Returning to the Moon and supporting future space exploration requires affordable delivery of significant amounts of cargo", said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell.
"This contract award is another critical piece of our plan to return to the moon sustainably", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said today in a news release. But NASA is considering a 15-year bridge replenishment program that can cost up to $ 7 billion, and more flights are expected as the project matures.
An artist's impression of a NASA Orion capsule carrying an astronaut on its way to the lunar surface is approaching the Gateway space station in orbit around the moon. They'll utilize SpaceX's current Falcon Heavy art to dispatch from Earth for the excursion. The European Space Agency is expected to contribute to an global housing module, or IHAB, and the Canadian space agency is providing robotic weapons. "Through our partnership with NASA, SpaceX has been delivering scientific research and critical supplies to the International Space Station since 2012, and we are honored to continue the work beyond Earth's orbit and carry Artemis cargo to Gateway".
The birth of the Gateway will see start with the construction of two of the station's mission-essential modules - the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) - have been contracted to Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, respectively.