Spanish engineering and technology group Sener has secured five contracts for the development phase of a space station in lunar orbit, which is set to become the next international space station and scheduled to be built in the 2020s as part of the Gateway Project.
Previously called the Deep Space Gateway (DSG), the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G) is an international project in which American space agency NASA, Russia’s Roscosmos, Canada’s CSA, Japan’s JAXA and Europe’s ESA are participating to design and plan a station in orbit around the Moon, called Cislunar, which can house astronauts for short periods of time.
The space station is intended to be used as an intermediate point for crewed and robotic space missions on the lunar surface in route to other planets, such as Mars, and even to deep space.
The platform will consist of several modules – power and propulsion, infrastructure and telecommunications, logistics, and two habitation modules, as well as an additional airlock for spacewalks.
The Sener group has entered into five contracts to carry out the project.
For the habitation module (I-HAB), Sener, under contract to Airbus Germany, will design the four hatches and the internal secondary structure.
For Thales Alenia Space Italia, the company will define the interfaces for the external and internal robotic arms.
For both companies, Sener will also design the docking and berthing mechanisms between the I-HAB and various modules, which will be assembled in orbit.
For the infrastructure and telecommunications module (ESPRIT), under contract to Thales Alenia Space France, Sener will assess the motorised hatch, the communication antenna pointing mechanism and the robotic arm interfaces.
For the lunar landing vehicle that will be coupled to the station later to collect lunar soil samples, Sener will take up the structural design, mechanisms and thermal control, also under Airbus contract.
Under the technological development plan for future ESA missions, the Sener group will carry out the S-band deployable antenna integrated into the lunar ascent module.
The antenna, with mechanical pointing capability, will allow the transmission of mission data from the lunar surface as well as telemetry and telecommand communications during the module’s ascent and descent manoeuvres.
Currently, the Sener group is participating in the main programmes of ESA and NASA and of the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
Image: Sener secures five contracts for LOP-Gateway lunar mission. Photo: Courtesy of SENER.