NASA and the European Space Agency have signed an agreement committing the space agencies to collaborate on the Gateway component of Moon mission, Artemis, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement Tuesday.
“As our outpost in lunar orbit, the Gateway is critical for sustainable exploration of the Moon as well as testing systems and operations for future missions to Mars,” Bridenstine said.
Under terms of the agreement, ESA will provide an additional habitation element, enhanced lunar communications, and a refueling capability to the Gateway later this decade. They will also provide two more European service modules for future Orion spacecraft, Bridenstine said.
“We are honored by this agreement with ESA and, again, it is one of several to come with our international partners,” he said. “Exploration requires more than hardware though – and that is why this commitment with ESA includes opportunities for European astronauts to fly with NASA astronauts on future Artemis missions to the Gateway.”
Bridenstine said NASA plans to use a similar approach to what we did with the Commercial Crew Program. NASA is expected to announce an initial group of astronauts eligible for early lunar missions known as the Artemis Team.
“Closer to launch, usually within about two years, we will announce specific flight assignments for crew as well as their backups,” Bridenstine said. “We will add more members to this team throughout the Artemis program.”