What is the ‘Lunar Gateway’?

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  • The Lunar Gateway is a planned small space station in the orbit of the Moon.
  • The Gateway will be an outpost orbiting the Moon that provides vital support for a sustainable, long-term human return to the lunar surface, as well as a staging point for deep space exploration.
  • It is a critical component of NASA’s Artemis programme.
  • The project is led by NASA, and it is to be developed, serviced, and utilized in collaboration with:
  1. Canadian Space Agency,
  2. European Space Agency,
  3. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
  4. Commercial partners (Like SpaceX)
  • The Gateway is a vital part of NASA’s deep space exploration plans, along with the Space Launch System(SLS) rocket, Orion spacecraft, and human landing system that will send astronauts to the Moon.
  • Gaining new experiences on and around the Moon will prepare NASA to send the first humans to Mars in the coming years.
  • NASA’s Artemis program is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by Apollos’s sister


  • Old name – Deep Space Gateway (DSG)
  • Renamed Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G) in 2018
  • It will serve as the staging point for both robotic and crewed exploration of the lunar south pole.
  • It is the proposed staging point for NASA’s Deep Space Transport concept for transport to Mars.
  • US$332 million has been committed by Congress to preliminary studies.
  • Construction is planned to take place in the 2020s.
  • The International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG), which is composed of more than 14 space agencies, has concluded that Gateway will be critical in expanding a human presence to the Moon, Mars, and deeper into the Solar System.


  • NASA has focused Gateway development on the initial critical elements required to support the 2024 landing –
  1. the Power and Propulsion Element,
  2. the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), and
  3. logistics capabilities.

Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO)

  • The HALO will be the initial crew cabin for astronauts visiting the Gateway.
  • Its primary purpose is to provide basic life support needs for the visiting astronauts after they arrive in the Orion, and prepare for their trip to the lunar surface.
  • environmental control and life support systems to augment the Orion spacecraft and support crew members.

Logistics Capabilities

  • NASA announced SpaceX as the first U.S. commercial provider under the Gateway Logistics Services contract to deliver cargo and other supplies to the Gateway.
  • One logistics services delivery is anticipated for each crewed Artemis mission to the Gateway.
  • **Gateway Logistics is based at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The orbit of the Gateway

  • Highly elliptical “near-rectilinear halo orbit.”
  • At closest approach = Within 930 miles (1,500 km) of the lunar surface.
  • At farthest point = around 43,500 miles (70,000 km).
  • Its 6-day orbit will keep the Gateway out of the moon’s shadow at all times, permitting constant communication with Earth.
  • Once docked to the Gateway, astronauts will be able to stay there for three months at a time, conduct science experiments and take trips to the surface of the Moon.
  • It can be moved to other orbits around the Moon to conduct more research.
  • Can act as a launch-pad for space-crafts going to Moon or Mars.

Lunar Orbital Station

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  • It is a proposed Russian space station in orbit around the Moon.
  • The design was presented in 2007 at a conference at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City.
  • It is one of the two parts of the planned Russian lunar infrastructure, the other part being a base on the surface of the Moon.


  • The lunar orbital station would be used for:
  1. the transfer and storage of cargo and propellants,
  2. serve as temporary or emergency quarters for crews,
  3. a platform for scientific studies of the Moon, such as remote-sensing and cartography, and
  4. help relay signals between Earth and the lunar surface.

Reasons for a separate project:

  • Russia feels that the Artemis programme and Lunar Gateway are too US-centric.
  • However, Russia’s ROSCOSMOS is developing its next generation Orel crew spacecraft, and wants it to be able to dock at NASA’s Gateway.
  • ROSCOSMOS has good relations with China’s National Space Administration, and there could be collaboration in the LOS.
  • China is developing its own space station in low Earth orbit.
  • The first section of the station could launch in 2021, and astronauts will live aboard the complex for months at a time.
  • Chinese officials have said they are also planning to build a lunar base near the moon’s south pole, where permanently-shadowed craters hold vast reserves of water ice.
  1. This could be harvested to make fuel, drinking water, and oxygen.
  2. Russia is also building its alternative to ISS – its own Earth orbiting outpost.


  • NASA is barred by law from partnering with China’s space program.

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On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon. On this 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission, the National Archives highlights records about NASA and the space program and presents events and exhibits in Washington, DC, and at Presidential Libraries.

Find out more about our records relating to space exploration on Space Exploration - NASA Records at the National Archives.

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Learn about the work done by National Archives staff in a digitization partnership to make Apollo imagery more widely accessible to the public.


The Apollo 11 crew: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin Aldrin.


Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin inside the Lunar Module,


Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong inside the Lunar Module after EVA.


Astronaut Edwin Aldrin descends the Lunar Module ladder.


Astronaut Edwin Aldrin walks near the Lunar Module.

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Astronaut's bootprint on the lunar surface.


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Lunar surface at Tranquility Base.

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Recovery of the Apollo 11 astronauts.


The plaque left by the astronauts on the Moon reads: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the Moon, July 21, 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

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