Thales Alenia Space has signed a new contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to perform Phase A/B1 studies of two elements of the Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway (LOP-G) mission, previously known as Deep Space Gateway.

LOP-G is a lunar-orbit infrastructure, which will be equipped with a power and propulsion system, utilisation and crew habitation modules with docking capability, scientific and extravehicular activity (EVA) airlocks, and logistics modules.

It will be designed to serve as a test base for long-term environmental systems to keep astronauts alive on long space trips.

Existing International Space Station partners including Nasa, European Space Agency (ESA), Roscosmos, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) are leading the development of LOP-G, with plans to begin construction in the 2020s.

“It will be designed to serve as a test base for long-term environmental systems to keep astronauts alive on long space trips.”

Thales will act as the prime contractor for one of the parallel studies for the European System Providing Refuelling, Infrastructure and Telecommunications (ESPRIT) element of LOP-G, with OHB as major subcontractor.

The Phase A/B1 studies will involve the identification of a feasible mission design, the definition of a baseline for the spacecraft and its subsystems including the interfaces with the payload, the evaluation of the achievable scientific performance supported by extensive analyses and the definition of the development.

The ESPRIT system is expected to be launched with the first Utilization Module, which is a pressurised expansion module provided by the US.

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It is made up of propellant storage and refueling systems for the Power Propulsion Element, communication systems with the moon, interface points for external payloads as well as a scientific airlock.

The I-HAB is a pressurised element, which will be designed to perform habitability and life support functions, in addition to providing docking capabilities for interfaces and resources to the visiting vehicles of the gateway.

In order to develop I-HAB, Thales Alenia Space will lead a team of other European companies supporting a number of technical areas.