back to article NASA still serious about astronauts living it up on Moon space station in 2028

The first group of astronauts to set foot into NASA's Moon-orbiting Gateway space station will be the Artemis IV crew in 2028, if everything goes as planned. The Americans have made it no secret they want to colonize the Moon, and envision eventually building infrastructure to make it a base to explore further into the solar …

  1. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Design Matters

    I hope that the accommodation resembles the Hilton Hotel on Space Station Five

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Mass Matters

      I think you may have to adjust your expectations a little. Think capsule hotel, but a bit smaller. You are travelling in a group of four but the hotel only has one capsule.

      NASA renders always show Orion attached - to be fair, when there are people at the station there will be an Orion. To bulk up the size a bit more, they add a human landing system, but it is always the government reference concept system, not a giant Starship HLS.

      The Gateway Logistics Services contract requires the cargo spacecraft to be able to leave and never come back. NASA asked about the possibility of it hanging around so there would be significantly more pressurised volume for the astronauts. I am not sure if that is still a plan. The pressurised volume of Starship HLS dwarfs the rest of Gateway.

      1. gecho

        Re: Mass Matters

        If Starship becomes operational in the near future it will change a lot of things. I have to wonder how much effort SpaceX is putting into the DragonXL cargo vehicle as there really won't be any reason for it to exist. I think NASA is quietly hoping to roll the Falcon Heavy / DragonXL resupply contract over to Starship.

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Is this really going to happen? The Artemis program only exists to create jobs and keep politicians in power. It's nothing to do with landing humans back on the moon.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      SLS components have a limited lifespan. The first SLS got so close to its sell-by date that it was a choice of launch or scrap. That is what got Artemis I launched.

      The segments for the SRBs for Artemis II have already been poured. The count-down has started, but this time there will be people on board... Launch or scrap?

      Artemis III (Boots on the Moon) is more difficult to guess. The SLS will be late. The contract for the space suits was awarded very late so they could be the pacing item. There is a lot of work ahead for Starship HLS making it a three way race for who delays Artemis III the most. SLS is cost plus so delays benefit Boeing. The other two are firm fixed price - they only get paid after achieving milestone so those two will progress as fast as possible (not as fast as scheduled). Boeing will have to keep up or it will be Europa Clipper all over again.

      Artemis IV gets a new upper stage on SLS so it needs a new mobile launch platform. Those are giant cost plus contracts. The desire to keep those active creates a huge incentive for Artemis III to actually work - eventually.

    2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      And it's not as if there is any point in having humans on the moon either, which is why NASA has been reduced to stunts like "first woman on the moon" to try and generate a bit of interest and a lot of funding.

      1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid

        "'s not as if there is any point in having humans on the moon..."

        It's all about building the staging post to mars, which is why Gateway is called Gateway.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Yeah, nothing to do with the Heechee!

          1. Killing Time

            Re 'nothing to do with the Heechee!'

            Upvote from me for the Heechee reference. I assume your downvoter has never read Fred Pohl.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @jdieb etc

          Quote ..."It's all about building the staging post to mars, which is why Gateway is called Gateway." unquote.

          Soz mate that is a load of bollocks. As it says in the article...

          "The Americans have made it no secret they want to colonize the Moon".

          And there you have it. They want to be the boss.

          It won't happen. The "boss" will either be India or China.

          Clue... which country landed a rover on Mars on their first attempt and it started roving on their first attempt

          Not the U.S.A.

          1. Killing Time

            'Clue... which country landed a rover on Mars on their first attempt and it started roving on their first attempt

            Not the U.S.A.'

            Er, yes it was, it was Sojourner on a NASA Pathfinder mission.

            Need to polish up on your subject matter mate.

        3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          There is no bloody point in putting humans on Mars either. There is absolutely nothing they could do there which couldn't be done ten times better and a tenth of the cost by robots.

          1. Excused Boots

            Actually no, although yes, I agree putting humans into a situation is vastly more expensive than a robot, there is no robotic system which comes anywhere close to the abilities of a human 'on the spot'.

            1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

              I seem to recall an annecdote about the Apollo program. During one of the moon landings an astronaught said "Ooh, that's interesting" and completely changed what they were going to do to investigate.

              Robots are great at doing what they're told to do. Humans are great at changing plans on the fly.

              1. Scene it all

                Except for robots being controlled by humans, which is nearly all of them.

        4. Fred Dibnah

          For UK readers

          Gateway, soon to be renamed to Somerfield.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: For UK readers

            Just UK readers?

            The rest of us will elbow our way in anyway. We're an un-co-operative group when it comes to being dismissed out of hand.

          2. Martin Howe

            Re: For UK readers

            Heck, I remember when it was Key Markets. Now get off my lawn :P

      2. pomegranate

        Because we vote.

        Draft animals, steam, electricity, and now electronics have been making humans redundant for a long time, and yet, here we are.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Because we vote.

          There is currently one crewed satellite (the ISS) in orbit and around 5,500 robotic ones.

        2. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

          Re: Because we vote.

          There's the real motivation.

          Because once they've built 34 structural units, 16 fuel/propulsion components, and 12 habitation, support and power modules, it's 40000 humans off to Alpha Centauri!

          But first we have to invent fusion power and a superconductor.

      3. ravenviz Silver badge

        The only reason we need “space” is for resources so we can stop fucking up the Earth. But this is on our terms, we are not really any different from the water cycle if we manage to figure out some form of stability.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the Artemis V crew"

    We're at Artemis I, right ?

    So that's like the mobile phone industry talking about 8G when 5G has just been registered as a commercial failure, and 6G is still under design.

    The only difference is that this is NASA planning. I'm fairly sure that they can plan a space station better than the mobile phone industry can plan yet another useless xG version. The space station will be absolutely critical to anything we get to doing in space in the future.

    It's a good thing everyone is not like the mobile phone industry, otherwise we'd have IPv7 in the starting blocks and everyone telling us we need to migrate to accomodate a googleplex ip addresses we don't need.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: "the Artemis V crew"

      The Luna Gateway was actually quite irrelevant.

      The Constellation plan was a small human rated launch vehicle (Ares I) to get Orion to Low Earth Orbit and a really big cargo rocket (Ares V) to send vehicles for the rest of the journey direct to the Moon. That would keep the high cost of human rating Ares I from being multiplied by the large size of Ares V. Constellation went massively over budget, thoroughly delayed and then cancelled reconfigured so the usual suspects would get a replacement cost plus mega contract.

      Ares I + V got averaged into SLS one rocket cheaper than two allowing the human rating cost to be multiplied by the cargo launcher size. The second stage was to be done in two blocks: block one (ICPS) would be wimpy, empensive and very late. Block 2 (EUS) would not be as wimpy, more expensive and will be much later. SLS is too small for sending Orion to Low Luna Orbit and overkill for going to LEO/ISS. Gateway in Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit was proposed as a possible destination for SLS+Orion. At the time, a complete Human Landing System capable of starting at NRHO would have been very limited. Sending the HLS in pieces and having some assembly required made a viable lander at the expense of requiring somewhere for astronauts to stay while they got the job done. Three pork projects each supporting each other. Add in some international partnerships for Gateway and the three would be impossible to cancel even it became clear that SLS was more expensive and slower than Constellation.

      Given the existence of this monster, Bridenstine and Pence came up with a plan to take advantage of it. To get a presidential signature they needed to promise to get people back on the Moon by 2024. There was no chance of Gateway (or New Glenn) being ready in time. Taking out those two severely limited Blue Moon version 1 and made Dynetics' ALPACA non-viable.

      Starship is so huge that it can do NRHO to the Moon and back without orbital assembly (or Luna disassembly). It comes with two huge disadvantages: it does not require an expensive space station in NRHO and it is not manufactured in 50 different states. Clearly something had to be done. Congress came up with the money for a second 'competitive' HLS without the 2024 deadline but requiring Gateway. Blue Origin formed a national team to overcome Starship HLS's drawbacks.

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge

    To make this article a little bit let US-centric: the Lunar gateway is meant to have two modules named ESPRIT and I-HAB. ESPRIT will be provided by ESA, I-HAb by the JAXA. Canadian ASC will provide the robotic arm.

  5. graeme leggett Silver badge

    a new century awaits

    I say we need to put stations at the Lagrange points to avoid a Side gap.

    Though getting developed nations to agree this may require a New type of thinking.

  6. Alan Mackenzie

    This sounds like moderately fast suicide.

    What exactly is meant to protect the astronauts from cosmic rays and solar winds? The International Space Station is within the Earth's protective magnetic field. Gateway, in Lunar orbit, will be far outside of it.

    The Apollo astronauts made it back again after about 1 week's exposure, and wasn't that when Solar radiation was at its 11 year minimum?

    Or, is Gateway going to be lined with lead?

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: This sounds like moderately fast suicide.

      Doesn't require much, really.

      Reasonable shielding is provided by decent sized tanks filled with the water, fuel and oxidizer that you need anyway.

      Won't shield the entire habitable volume, but significant radiation events are detectable by SOHO with enough warning to get into a shelter, and fairly short lived.

      On the assumption that it happens at all, the actual Gateway is likely to be the radiation shelter for a pair of Starship HLS that are the actual usable station.

  7. Eric Olson

    A lot of people in the comments acting like someone pissed in their cereal this morning

    I know the readership here may be a bit more dour than your typical IT professional, but this comment section reads like a roast without the good-nature humor.

    Space is hard, and it's a legitimate question if space should be tried given the cost that comes with it. I do, as there are knock-on benefits every time humanity tries something hard. Hard things are just that, and if as a species we want to stop doing the hard things, that's an option. But as evidenced by other nations and private corporations, there is a drive to explore space even though it's hard. NASA has the mission to explore space, and jobs program though it may be on the Space Coast, this is keeping with that mission. Will it succeed? Maybe not; but also remember they don't call these shots. If you actually have a problem with how this money gets spent, or that it's spent at all, Congress is the culprit.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: A lot of people in the comments acting like someone pissed in their cereal this morning

      And always remember the huge sums of money spent on NASA would keep the british health service running for about 3 months

      Or the US military for about a week

      Or the US welfare system for about 3 days.

      As for the 'no humans on the moon we can do it better with robots' remember the mars insight lander and its struggles to get the seismic probe into the surface.... what that lander could have done with is a big fat human boot in the right place and that probe would have dug itself in just fine.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: A lot of people in the comments acting like someone pissed in their cereal this morning

        Weeelll, they did try the boot and that didn't work.

        A human could have poked it with a stick.

        1. rajivdx

          Re: A lot of people in the comments acting like someone pissed in their cereal this morning

          If they found a stick on Mars, i don't think they'll have a lot more to be excited about than poking a probe with it!

  8. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Plenty of Fun for the Entire Family

    It would be nice if they accommodated the Space Tourists who pay many thousands just for a day's ride in a sardine can, by having permanent stay blocks looking and working like any massive concrete hotel on earth.

    They would only need air, water and some sort of goop as nutrition, all three of which they can be charged for in their bills. They could be placed far away from any engineering facilities; and be trusted to take care of their own amusements; like hiking, digging holes, taking photographs, drawing, rolling about in dunes and whatever takes their fancy.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Plenty of Fun for the Entire Family

      The set of people with sufficient cash to burn say half a billion on a trip to the Moon is rather small. There's 3194 USD billionaires worldwide according to the last count I found.

      Assuming someone is willing to spend 10% of their wealth, at $10 million a trip the potential US market is about 10k people.

      The vast majority are older than 50 and likely to have chronic conditions that would make such a trip ... unwise.

      1. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: Plenty of Fun for the Entire Family

        I see no reason there to hinder their lust to Conquer the Stars.

  9. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Can we at least not make the moon orbit(s) a fast paced junk yard this time around?

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