Destination Moon: UAE team begins construction of Gateway Lunar Space Station

As part of the mission, UAE's space engineers will build a 10-tonne 'Crew and Science' airlock, the entry and exit point for astronauts on the Gateway


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 21 Jan 2024, 6:03 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 Jan 2024, 9:03 AM

Construction has begun on the Gateway Lunar Space Station, including the airlock supplied by the UAE. Salem Al Marri, Director General of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), shared this exciting development on the social media platform X on Sunday.

Al Marri wrote, "This week, we started the work on the Gateway Lunar Space Station after our leadership announced the UAE's participation in the project. We had several meetings with the Gateway team at NASA's Johnson Space Center to coordinate the efforts, and our team at MBRSC is starting to work on the #EmiratesAirlock, which will used in the first lunar station in history.

"We are still at the beginning of the journey, but with the dedication of the MBRSC team and our collaboration with @NASA, @esa @csa_asc and @JAXA_en, I'm sure we will achieve our ambitious goals."

Al Marri also shared pictures of the mockup of the first planned extra-terrestrial space station with a team from the MBRSC listening to experts.

"In these photos, you can see the mockup of Lunar Gateway's Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), the first constructed part of the Gateway."

MBRSC DG is accompanied by the Minister of Youth and astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi, UAE's pioneering astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori, along with members of the second astronaut corps, Nora AlMatrooshi, and Mohammed Al Mulla.

Another post also revealed that the MBRSC team, led by AlMarri, held several meetings with NASA officials this week to begin the collaboration on the Gateway Lunar Space Station.

Extended exploration of Moon

The lunar space station is set to aid the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) in their extended exploration of the Moon through the Artemis program, benefitting all involved parties.

As part of this, the UAE's space engineers will build a 10-tonne 'Crew and Science' airlock, the entry and exit point for astronauts on the Lunar Gateway.

In a recent interview with Khaleej Times, Al Marri said, "The gateway is a station built predominantly by the US, Europe, Canada, Japan and now the UAE. So, we will provide a very important element: the airlock. The airlock is a very large segment of this. We hopefully expect to finish this by 2030."

The Gateway is configured to operate in a near-rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon, facilitating landings in the southern polar region.

Its construction will span several missions, starting with deploying a propulsion element and habitation module aboard a Falcon Heavy.

He added, "Space is very hard. What we are doing with our partners in Nasa is something actually quite unique-- the first time in human history that a space station is being built around the Moon. So, there's a lot of learning that Nasa and the partners have gone through. They will use that learning from the ISS to take to the Gateway."

The first two modules of the small multi-purpose outpost orbiting the Moon are expected to launch in 2025. The Emirates Module is expected to launch in 2030.

"There'll be engineering, technical, schedule, and scientific challenges to building the airlock, but we will work very hard to overcome those. We are seeing a big push towards the Moon. The Moon is particularly difficult. We're not talking about landing now we're talking about a station around the Moon," said Al Marri.


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