NASA has got the acceptance of the White House to continue with the Lunar Orbital Platform (LOP-G), also known as ‘Gateway’. NASA plans to place a station, similar to the ISS, on the Moon’s orbit. Lunar Orbital Platform would be also the outpost for future manned missions to Mars.
LOP-G ‘Gateway’ will facilitate scientific experiments and manned missions on the Moon and Mars
According to NASA, this space outpost will be more than a place where astronaut crews will live and work in space. From this orbital platform, missions with human crews will be launched at the surface of the Moon and, possibly, even further, to Mars.
The ‘Gateway’ Lunar Orbital Platform will be equipped with high-end scientific instruments and will facilitate the development of scientific experiments in multiple fields, from astrophysics to physics and chemistry, and from biology to human psychology.
NASA hopes the Lunar Orbital Platform ‘Gateway’ will be active by 2025
Likewise, the Moon’s orbital platform will also be equipped with instruments for making observations on the Earth and the Sun.
In the draft budget for the fiscal year 2019, NASA has requested funds to prepare for the launch of the first element of this new space station in 2022. NASA is planning to launch the module that will provide the power and propulsion of the entire station.
If everything goes according to the plan, the new orbital moon station could be ready after two more launches, by the end of 2025.
Other astronomers consider LOP-G useless
For example, Robert Zubrin, the president of Pioneer Astronautics in Colorado and founder and chairman of the Mars Society advocacy group, criticized NASA’s investment in the LOP-G project, estimating that the project has no use.
“We do not need the Lunar Orbital Platform [LOP-G ‘Gateway’] to go to the Moon or Mars or to the asteroids in the vicinity of the Earth (…) is absurd,” argued Zubrin.