SpaceX has revealed a new larger Dragon spacecraft that will be used to resupply NASA’s lunar Gateway space station.
In a March 27 press release, NASA announced the awarding of a “Gateway Logistics Services contract” to SpaceX. The contract will see the launch provider deliver cargo, experiments and other supplies to the agency’s planned lunar space station.
Accompanying the announcement of the Gateway Logistics Services contract was an illustration of a never-before-seen Dragon spacecraft. The Dragon XL looks to be a variant of the Cargo Dragon with deployable solar arrays instead of the integrated solar arrays featured on the Crew Dragon.
The image supplied with the announcement and the spacecraft’s name featured in the description are the only details about the Dragon XL currently known. However, in the illustration, it appears that the spacecraft is significantly larger than the Cargo Dragon and without any visible heatshield, which indicates Dragon XL spacecraft will not return to Earth following their time aboard the Gateway station.
Although no other contracts have been awarded yet, SpaceX is unlikely to be the only contractor to be tapped for a share of the $7 billion budget for Gateway Logistics Services missions. The firm-fixed-price contracts guaranteed at least two missions per logistics services provider.