Northrop Grumman awarded $187 million contract to design and build “portal” module for NASA

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $187 million contract to design a “resident and logistics outpost” (HALO) crew capsule for NASA’s Gateway deep-space outpost,media reported. HALO will be based on the unmanned Cygnus cargo ship developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, which will provide a living area for visiting astronauts.

As a key part of NAS’s “Artemis” program to establish a permanent U.S. manned presence on the moon, the Gateway outpost is a modular spacecraft that will be parked in orbit around the moon to support manned and unmanned missions on the moon and one day to Mars.

One of the most important “portal” modules is “HALO”, which is said to be the size of a small studio apartment, including a life support system that works with docked Orion spacecraft. HALO is currently in the preliminary design phase and is scheduled to be reviewed by the end of the year. The $187 million contract will fund HALO. According to NASA, the design was made under a cost-plus-incentive contract that Northrop would use to fund subcontractors. If the design phase is successful, a second contract will be awarded to cover the cost of manufacturing and assembly.

While many details of the design have not yet been determined, NASA says the Portal’s Power and Propulsion Elements (PPE) module will be integrated with HALO in 2023. Instead of stitching the modules together on the track, this is because docking operations can be eliminated, reducing costs and risks. THE PPE PROVIDES POWER TO THE OUTPOST AND ACCOMMODATES A 60-KILOWATT SOLAR POWER PROPULSION SYSTEM THAT WILL BE USED TO ALLOW THE STATION TO CHANGE ITS ORBIT.

“We have made significant progress on these first two elements, including the inclusion of components from ESA, the Canadian Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and payloads from our research community,” said Dan Hartman, Gateway Program Manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “The new program that integrates both elements of Gateway demonstrates the ability of the agency and our partners to re-evaluate the program flexibly and as needed. By co-launching these elements, we can significantly reduce the risk profile of the portal and increase cost-effectiveness. “