Aerospace and defence technology company Northrop Grumman has secured a contract to build the initial crew module of the Nasa’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost.

Gateway is part of Nasa’s Artemis programme, which is expected to provide new insights and knowledge about the Moon, Earth and origins in the solar system.

Northrop Grumman Space’s subsidiary Orbital Science Corporation of Dulles in Virginia is responsible for the design of the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO) for the Gateway.

The $187m contract funds HALO’s design through its preliminary design review (PDR). According to the agency, the PDR is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

This award is a continuation to the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships 2 (NextSTEP-2) Appendix A contract.

Northrop Grumman civil and commercial satellites vice-president Steve Krein said: “The success of our Cygnus spacecraft and its active production line helps to enable Northrop Grumman to deliver the HALO module.

“HALO is an essential element in Nasa’s long-term exploration of deep-space, and our HALO programme team will continue its work in building and delivering this module in partnership with Nasa.”

The cost-plus incentive fee contract will enable Northrop Grumman to finalise the design of all systems and subsystems.

It also allows the company to award initial subcontracts for long-lead hardware elements.

Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “This contract award is another significant milestone in our plan to build robust and sustainable lunar operations.

“The Gateway is a key component of Nasa’s long-term Artemis architecture and the HALO capability furthers our plans for human exploration at the Moon in preparation for future human missions to Mars.”

US-based company SGT recently secured the Marshall Operations, Systems, Services and Integration (MOSSI) contract from Nasa to provide ground systems and operations services for the payload and mission operations division.