Skip to main content

Next-gen lunar station will be built by United States and Russia

lunar station deep space gateway orion visiting
The United States and Russia have a long and tumultuous history of competing in outer space. And although those extraterrestrial tensions quieted down to some extent at the end of the Cold War, the two nations have grown increasingly at odds here on Earth.

It might come as a surprise then to learn that NASA and its Russian equivalent, the space agency Roscomos, have actually joined forces on projects involving the International Space Station and, more recently, an exploration of Venus.

Related Videos

This week the bond between the two nations’ space programs grew stronger as the agencies announced another collaboration. It’s an ambitious, American-led initiative called Deep Space Gateway, a concept that would place a space station in an orbit close to the moon to aid in deep space exploration.

“While the deep space gateway is still in concept formulation, NASA is pleased to see growing international interest in moving into cislunar space as the next step for advancing human space exploration,” Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s acting administrator, said in a statement. “Statements such as this one signed with Roscosmos show the gateway concept as an enabler to the kind of exploration architecture that is affordable and sustainable.”

The United States and Russia aren’t alone in their lunar aspirations. China and Japan have both shared distinct plans to reach the Moon and build a base by 2020. The European Space Agency has a similar long-term goal for a permanent moon base.

Private entities are equally interested in the Moon. XPrize and Google teamed up to offer $30 million in prizes for the first privately funded teams to land a robot on the lunar surface, travel over 1,500 feet, and beam back high-definition images and video. Some 30 teams signed up. Moon Express, one of the companies competing for the XPrize, has voiced its plan to mine the moon for resources.

Although details about the project are scarce so far, the Deep Space Gateway will be designed to dock with NASA’s Orion spacecraft, while supporting a four-person crew. It would be used by astronauts as a pit stop on their way to further explore the lunar surface, Mars, and Venus. The agencies hope to construct the station’s modules in the 2020s.

Editors' Recommendations

Roman Space Telescope will survey the sky 1,000 times faster than Hubble
NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope

Since its launch in 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope has been delighting space fans with its stunning views of space objects near and far. But NASA has another space telescope in the works that will be able to help answer even more of the big questions in astronomy. The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, set to launch in 2027 and colloquially known as Roman, will look at vast areas of space to help cosmologists understand the universe on a large scale.

In astronomy research, it's important to be able to look both in very great detail and on a very wide scale. Telescopes like Hubble and James Webb have exceptional sensitivity, so they can look at extremely distant objects. Roman will be different, aiming to get a broad view of the sky. The image below illustrates the differences between the telescopes, showing what Roman and Hubble can capture in one go and comparing Hubble's detailed, but narrow view to Roman's much wider view.

Read more
Astronaut captures ‘unreal’ aurora image from space station
An aurora as viewed from the ISS.

A geomagnetic storm caused by a series of recent explosive events on the sun has brought spectacular auroras to parts of Earth in recent days.

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) 250 miles above our planet have also been enjoying the amazing light show, with ISS inhabitant Josh Cassada sharing a stunning image that he captured just recently.

Read more
SpaceX confirms readiness for launch of most powerful rocket
SpaceX's Super Heavy and Starship.

A senior SpaceX official has said that following a successful static-fire test of the Super Heavy’s engines, the next-generation rocket is ready for its first orbital test flight.

Gary Henry, SpaceX's senior director for national security space solutions, said at this week’s Space Mobility conference in Orlando, Florida, that the engine test two weeks ago was “the last box to check” ahead of the rocket’s maiden test flight.

Read more