ESA has signed the contract with Thales Alenia Space to start building the European module for the future Gateway lunar link orbital station.
ESPRIT (European System Providing Refueling, Infrastructure and Telecommunications), will be a cylindrical module with space for astronauts to work, much like a module on the International Space Station. It will include an observatory that offer 360-degree views of the Moon and incoming spacecraft as they dock at the lunar outpost, reports ESA.
It will consist of two main elements: a system to provide data, voice and video communications from the Gateway to the Moon and a refueling module that will provide the Gateway with xenon and chemical propellants. The refueling element will ensure Gateway has fuel to maintain its orbitas well as to support future reusable lunar landers and increased space transportation.
The Gateway is being built by the International Space Station partners and will enable sustainable exploration around and on the Moon, while enables space research and demonstrates the technologies and processes necessary to carry out a future mission loving You.
The communications element is under accelerated development for launch in 2024, mounted on the first US Gateway module, called HALO, while the refueling module will be ready for launch in 2026. The contract is worth € 296.5 million and will see the module built by Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, in a joint effort with Thales Alenia Space in Italy and the UK.