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NASA's Gateway space station Halo module moves closer to launch

Module's welding completed in Italy

By Allen Cone
Technicians at a Thales Alenia Space industrial plant in Turin, Italy, guide Gateway’s HALO module to its stress testing location. Image courtesy of Thales Alenia Space
1 of 3 | Technicians at a Thales Alenia Space industrial plant in Turin, Italy, guide Gateway’s HALO module to its stress testing location. Image courtesy of Thales Alenia Space

June 10 (UPI) -- NASA's Gateway space station is moving closer to a launch after welding recently was completed on a module in Turin, Italy, the agency said Monday.

The Habitation and Logistics Outpost, or HALO, is one of four modules in which astronauts will live, conduct science and prepare for lunar surface missions.

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The launch of Gateway is scheduled no earlier than 2025. In 2021, NASA awarded SpaceX a $331.8 million contract to launch the first two pieces of the outpost aboard the company's powerful Falcon Heavy rocket from Florida to the moon.

In a highly elliptical orbit, the space station will come to within approximately 1,865 miles of the lunar surface during its closest approach and then travel out to a distance of 43,500 miles before heading back in, according to the European Space Agency. A full orbit should take about a week.

Gateway is about one-sixth the size of the International Space Station.

Thales Alenia teams guided HALO to a new location in the company's facility for stress tests to ensure the module's safety. The company is a joint venture between the French technology corporation Thales Group and Italian defense conglomerate Leonardo.

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HALO next will travel to Gilbert, Ariz., where Northrop Grumman will complete final outfitting ahead of launch to lunar orbit with Gateway's Power and Propulsion Element.

Northrop received a $935 million fixed-price contract from NASA in 2021

The project partners are the Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in United Arab Emirites.

In March, Dr. Jon B. Olansen replaced retiring Dan Hartman as director of the space station. Olansen has been with the program since its inception in 2019.

Humans are scheduled to be launched aboard Artemis to the moon no sooner than 2026.

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