NASA and Northrop Grumman finalised a contract July 9 to complete development of the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) for the agency’s lunar Gateway space station.
Valued at $935 million, the fixed-price contract will see Northrop Grumman complete the development and construction of HALO. It also includes provisions for the integration of HALO with the Maxar-built Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), spacecraft turnover and preparation with launch provider SpaceX, and additional support for activation and checkout of HALO during its trip to lunar orbit.
“The HALO is a critical component of Gateway, and this exciting announcement today brings us one step closer to landing American boots on both the Moon and Mars,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
HALO is where astronauts from around the world will live and conduct research while aboard the Gateway space station. It includes pressurised living quarters, command and control systems, and docking ports for visiting crew and cargo spacecraft and lunar landers.
The design of HALO is based on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft, which has conducted 15 resupply missions to the International Space Station. The Gateway module completed a preliminary design review in May ensuring that its systems meet NASA’s strict requirements for safety and reliability.
“Leveraging our success with our Cygnus spacecraft, Northrop Grumman is perfectly positioned to deliver the HALO module, a critical piece for NASA’s Artemis program and our journey to the Moon and beyond,” said Frank DeMauro, vice president of tactical space systems at Northrop Grumman.
The HALO/PPE Gateway space station stack is slated to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy in November 2024.
SpaceX was awarded the $331.8 million launch contract for the HALO/PPE stack in February. The July 9 announcement includes a targeted launch day of May 2024, a launch date that appears to have slipped by six months since the launch contract was awarded. This adds to a string of delays with an announcement in June 2020 stating that NASA was targeting late 2023 for the launch of the two Gateway modules.