NASA has formally opened the tender process for companies to apply to provide cargo transportation services for its Lunar Gateway station, with contracts worth US $7-billion up for grabs.
The Gateway Logistics Services request for proposals (RFP) is similar to a draft version of the RFP issued by the agency in June, but a few changes have been made to the specifications, primarily regarding mission duration.
The draft RFP stated that cargo vehicles should be designed to remain attached to the Gateway for three years, and that the capability for even longer missions “should be considered.”
The final RFP requires vehicles to be designed for only one-year stays at the Gateway, but with the option for potentially longer missions.
“The nominal mission docked duration is expected to be six months,” the final RFP notes.
Logistics companies that win the tender would be expected to deliver at least 3,400 kilograms of pressurized cargo and 1,000 kilograms of unpressurized cargo to the Gateway (orbiting the moon) on each mission.
The vehicle would also be required to dispose of at least as much pressurized and unpressurized cargo as it delivers to the Gateway, according to Space News.
Proposals are due to NASA Oct. 1, with the agency expected to award one or more contracts before the end of the calendar year.
The RFP is the latest step in NASA’s development of the lunar Gateway, which emphasizes the use of commercial services and partnerships.
NASA plans to use the Gateway as a staging zone for human lunar landings. A human lander, likely consisting of two or three modules, will be delivered to the Gateway on commercial launch vehicles.
A crewed Orion spacecraft, launched on a Space Launch System rocket, will then travel to and dock with the Gateway. Astronauts will transfer to the lander for a mission to the south polar region of the moon.
The agency’s current plans call for then expanding the Gateway with the addition of new habitation, utilization and other modules, many of which will be provided by international partners.
Exactly when and how the Gateway will be expanded has yet to be determined.