Main Engine Cut Off

Gateway Plans Shaping Up, SLS Plans Still Hopeful

Jason Davis for The Planetary Society with some great scoops on the Gateway:

The first piece of the Gateway is a power and propulsion module, scheduled to launch on a commercial rocket in 2022. The first crewed Orion mission, a lap around the Moon that will not stop in orbit, is scheduled a year later, in 2023. Then, in 2024, another Orion crew will fly to lunar orbit and visit the power and propulsion module, with two more pieces of the Gateway in tow.

“NASA plans to deliver two modules on the third integrated flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, targeted for 2024,” said Kathyrn Hambleton, a NASA public affairs officer, in an email.

She also confirmed the mission will mark the debut of a new SLS upper stage and launch from a second, yet-to-be-built mobile launch platform.

One of the two modules Orion will deliver in 2024 mission is ESPRIT, which stands for European System Providing Refueling Infrastructure and Telecommunications. As the name implies, ESA is the likely provider, though a formal agreement with NASA has not been announced.

That’s a hell of a lot of work—and money to spend—over the next few years, and that’s not even counting the Europa Clipper launch in 2023 that’s slated for an SLS launch.

It seems incredibly hopeful, but if SLS were able to fly with this sort of cadence, it would certainly make the conversation around it interesting again.