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Contract signed for the European Gateway module

on 25 February 2021

ESA signed a contract with Thales Alenia Space to start building the European module for the lunar Gateway that will provide the new human exploration facility with communications and refuelling.

The Gateway is being built by the partners of the International Space Station and will enable sustainable exploration around – and on – the Moon, while allowing for space research and demonstrating the technologies and processes necessary to conduct a future mission to Mars.

The European System Providing Refueling, Infrastructure and Telecommunications, or ESPRIT, will be a cylindrical module with space for astronauts to work in, much like an International Space Station module. It will include an observatory offering 360° views of the Moon and spacecraft as they dock with the lunar outpost.

ESPRIT 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 for maintaining its orbit as well as supporting future reusable lunar landers and further deep space transport.

The communications element is under fast-track development for launch in 2024 – mounted on the first US Gateway module, named HALO – while the refueling module will be ready for launch in 2026. The contract is worth 296.5 million Euros and will see the module being built by Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, in a joint effort with Thales Alenia Space in Italy and the United Kingdom.

More details can be found at this link.

Image credit: ESA