The Gateway will be an outpost orbiting the Moon that provides support for a long-term human return to the lunar surface as well as a staging point for deep space exploration. It is a critical component of NASA’s Artemis program. The Gateway is a vital part of NASA’s deep space exploration plans, along with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, Orion spacecraft, and human landing system that will send astronauts to the Moon.
NASA has focused Gateway development on the initial critical elements required to support the 2024 landing: the Power and Propulsion Element, the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), and logistics capabilities.
The Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) is a high-power, 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft that will provide power, high-rate communications, attitude control, and orbital transfer capabilities for the Gateway. NASA selected Maxar Technologies to develop, build, and support an in-space demonstration of the element. PPE is managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH and Maxar is working on the program from its facilities in California.
The PPE is three times more powerful than current capabilities. The thruster system features the Maxar-built high-power control electronics (PPU-6000), a Moog-provided xenon feed system, and four Busek-built BHT-6000 Hall effect thrusters. These thrusters will later be combined with other higher-power thrusters to complete the PPE’s 50-kW electric propulsion system. The PPE will be the most powerful electric propulsion spacecraft ever flown.
“We’re excited to demonstrate our newest technology on the power and propulsion element. Solar electric propulsion is extremely efficient, making it perfect for the Gateway,” said Mike Barrett, power and propulsion element project manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.
“This system requires much less propellant than traditional chemical systems, which will allow the Gateway to move more mass around the Moon, like a human landing system and large modules for living and working in orbit.”
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