Lunar Gateway No Longer Considered “Critical” to Artemis Success

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NASA claims Lunar Gateway is not part of its “critical path” to get to the Moon in 2024. That doesn’t mean it’s done, though. 

The Artemis deadline shakeup last year threw many at NASA into scramble-mode. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine started by replacing William Gerstenmeier, the longtime chief of human spaceflight. Then he and other officials ratcheted up pressure on private contractors like Boeing, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and others. Now officials are looking at Lunar Gateway. And they’ve decided that it’s not considered part of the “critical path” needed to land on the moon in four years. 

Original plans for the Artemis program assumed a human landing target of 2028. Additionally, Lunar Gateway, an orbiting space station served as a big part of the plan. From Lunar Gateway, astronauts could ferry re-supply packages and other mission cargo to the lunar surface without a large scale landing each time. Now, however, it appears NASA’s scrapped those plans in favor of more easily obtained solutions. 

Officials at NASA made the announcement Friday according to a report by Space News

It’s Not Curtains for Lunar Gateway Though…

…In fact, now that it’s no longer part of the “critical path” plan, NASA plans to use the project for more science-oriented missions. Additionally, prior to the meeting on Friday, the new head of NASA’s human spaceflight directorate, Dough Loverro, announced that the agency’s already chosen those first two missions.

According to Space News, Loverro expressed a desire to “de-risk” the Artemis program. He plans to do that by only focusing on tasks essential for human lunar landing. He’s quoted as saying, “What are we going to do to go ahead and make that happen? And the answer is you’ve got to go ahead and remove all the things that add to program risk along the way.”

In other words, “If it’s not mandatory, it’s not necessary,” he continued.

This line of thinking led to the scrapping of Lunar Gateway’s involvement in Artemis. Loverro guaranteed that the agency does not need Lunar Gateway for the ultimate crewed launch in 2024. As such, he indicated it would give the agency more time to develop a better, more productive Lunar Gateway program in the future. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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