By 2024, the International Space Station (ISS) will begin preparations to be retired from service. While its mission will likely be extended a short time after that date, it’s come time for NASA to look forward to the next generation of space stations. As part of their eventual plans to get to Mars, NASA is looking to build the Deep Space Gateway, which will remain locked in orbit above our moon. They can’t do it alone though and will be collaborating with Russia to design and build it.
As previously reported, the Deep Space Gateway is phase one of the five-phase plan to get to Mars. The space station will act as a service station for astronauts en route to Mars, and help facilitate future lunar and deep space missions. As previously reported by NASA Associated Administrator William H.Gerstenmaier, this space stations will also “support robotic or partner missions to the surface of the Moon, or to a high lunar orbit to support missions departing from the gateway to other destinations in the Solar System.”
The Russian space agency Roscosmos intends to develop international technical standards which will be used to create the space station in lunar orbit. By having NASA and Roscosmos jointly develop and agree on things such as pre-defined docking standards, it will allow both nations (and others) to create ships compatible with the station. These standards will also allow for the addition of add-on modules, much like the current International Space Station is made up of. The ISS currently consists of five Russian modules, seven from the US, two from Japan, and one European module.
As both countries continue to collaborate on space exploration, it paves a steady way forward for both the exploration of space and both country’s continued scientific development. Hopefully, NASA has enough money to build it though.
Images: NASA, Roscosmos