NASA, Northrop Grumman finalize moon outpost contract
Illustration showing a close-up of the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), one of the elements of Gateway.

NASA, Northrop Grumman finalize moon outpost contract

Gateway’s Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) will be living quarters in lunar orbit as part of Artemis program.


NASA and Northrop Grumman of Dulles, Virginia, have finalized a contract to develop the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) for Gateway, which will be a critical way station and outpost in orbit around the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

NASA and its commercial and international partners are building Gateway to support science investigations and enable surface landings at the moon, which will help prepare astronauts for future missions to Mars.

The firm, fixed-price contract is valued at $935 million. Under the contract, Northrop Grumman will be responsible for attaching and testing the integrated HALO with the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), being built by Maxar Technologies. Northrop Grumman will also lead the integrated PPE and HALO spacecraft turnover and launch preparation with SpaceX, and support activation and checkout of HALO during the flight to lunar orbit. NASA is targeting November 2024 to launch the integrated spacecraft on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

“Leveraging our success with our Cygnus spacecraft, Northrop Grumman is perfectly positioned to deliver the HALO module, a critical piece for NASA’s Artemis program and our journey to the moon and beyond,” said Frank DeMauro, vice president and general manager for tactical space systems at Northrop Grumman. “After recently completing a successful preliminary design review, we now look forward to completing the detailed design efforts and eventually bringing HALO to life in our Gilbert, Arizona, facility while also providing integration services for the final, combined vehicle before launch.”

HALO’s design is based on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft, which has completed 15 resupply missions to the International Space Station to date. A previous contract for HALO, awarded in June 2020, funded work through preliminary design review, one of a series of checkpoints for the complex engineering project. The review process for the module, completed in May, assessed all of the spacecraft’s design to ensure the overall system is safe and reliable for flight and meets NASA’s mission requirements.

“This action puts in place the final contract component of a diverse, multi-faceted team – distributed across the country and within some international partner facilities – working together to create and implement the initial Gateway capability. We are excited to work with Northrop Grumman and all the partners to deliver the cornerstone of sustainable human exploration in cis-lunar space,” said Dr. Jon Olansen, NASA’s manager of the HALO project.

With three docking ports, HALO will be the hub for international Gateway expansion in the future. The docking ports also will host a human landing system for lunar surface expeditions and logistics resupply spacecraft. As the Gateway hub, HALO will provide power, data, airflow to each of these ports, as well as thermal conditioning to assist future elements and spacecraft in controlling the temperature of their equipment and habitable environment.