NASA announced on Friday the award to the company SpaceX, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, of the first contract to deliver cargo, experiments and other supplies to its mission The Gateway, with which it seeks to put astronauts into lunar orbit in 2022.
This was announced by NASA in a statement in which it explains that The Gateway is a project with which in 2022 it wants to put into the Moon’s orbit a ship that will serve as a base for short expeditions to the lunar surface and that will serve as laboratory and temporary residence for astronauts.
The initiative is part of the Artemisa program, with which the agency hopes to send the first woman to the Moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable human presence on the lunar surface.
The contract awarded today allows NASA to order SpaceX an unlimited number of logistics supply trips for the crew of the “Gateway” spacecraft for the first 15 years of this project; in exchange, Musk’s company will receive a payment of up to $ 7 billion, an amount that will vary according to the number and type of services provided.
However, the space agency has already announced that it is currently planning multiple supply missions in which SpaceX’s transport ship will dock with the orbital spacecraft in 6 to 12 months.
This contract, which guarantees cargo supplies, scientific experiments and other elements for the “Gateway”, is the first contract signed by NASA with a commercial company with the objective of guaranteeing supplies on this mission, which is also expected to “win”. the experience necessary to carry out the historic human missions to Mars. ”
“In our collaboration with NASA, SpaceX has been delivering critical scientific research and supplies to the International Space Station since 2012. We are honored to continue working in Earth orbit and to bring the Artemis cargo to the Gateway,” said Gwynne Shotwell. , President of SpaceX.
Aiming to return to the Moon within four years, NASA’s Artemis program will reveal new knowledge about it, as well as planet Earth and the origins of the solar system.
“This is an exciting new chapter in human exploration,” concluded Mark Wiese, NASA’s head of deep space logistics.