Northrop Grumman to develop first lunar Gateway crew module
Artist's concept of the Gateway HALO.
Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman to develop first lunar Gateway crew module

Design adapts existing Cygnus spacecraft design to support NASA’s Artemis program timetable.

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NASA has awarded Northrop Grumman Space subsidiary Orbital Science Corp. of Dulles, Virginia, $187 million to design the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO) for the lunar Gateway, part of NASA’s Artemis program to build a sustainable presence at the moon.

The award funds HALO’s design through its preliminary design review, expected by the end of 2020. A second contract expected then will allow Northrop Grumman to fabricate and assemble HALO for integration with the Gateway’s power and propulsion element (PPE) by the end of 2023.

Integrating the elements on the ground prior to launch reduces cost and technical risks while enhancing the likelihood of mission success by eliminating the need for the two elements to dock in lunar orbit.

Developed through NASA’s NextSTEP initiative, the HALO design is derived from Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft that delivers supplies, spare equipment, and scientific experiments to the International Space Station, with 13 successful missions to date.

The HALO module serves as a crew habitat and docking hub for cislunar spacecraft, or spacecraft that navigate between the Earth and the moon. HALO will feature three docking ports for visiting spacecraft, including the Orion spacecraft and other lunar support vehicles.

Building on Cygnus’ pressurized cargo module, Northrop Grumman added command and control capabilities, including environmental control and life support systems, which, when coupled with NASA’s Orion spacecraft capabilities, can sustain four astronauts for up to 30 days as they embark on, and return from, expeditions to the lunar surface.

“The success of our Cygnus spacecraft and its active production line helps enable Northrop Grumman to deliver the HALO module,” said Steve Krein, vice president, civil and commercial satellites, Northrop Grumman.

By leveraging the active Cygnus production line, Northrop Grumman can provide a HALO module in the timeframe needed to support NASA’s Artemis program goal to return humans to the moon within the next four years.

“This contract award is another significant milestone in our plan to build robust and sustainable lunar operations,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “The Gateway is a key component of NASA’s long-term Artemis architecture and the HALO capability furthers our plans for human exploration at the moon in preparation for future human missions to Mars.”