WASHINGTON, March 28 (Xinhua) -- NASA has selected U.S. private space company SpaceX as the first commercial provider to deliver cargo, experiments and other supplies to the agency's Gateway in lunar orbit, according to a latest NASA release.
A photo of Earth taken from the moon (File photo)
The award is a significant step forward for NASA's Artemis program that will land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024 and build a sustainable human lunar presence, NASA announced on Friday.
At the moon, NASA and its partners will gain the experience necessary to mount a historic human mission to Mars.
SpaceX will deliver critical pressurized and unpressurized cargo, science experiments and supplies to the Gateway, such as sample collection materials and other items the crew may need on the Gateway and during their expeditions on the lunar surface, according to NASA.
"This contract award is another critical piece of our plan to return to the Moon sustainably," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "The Gateway is the cornerstone of the long-term Artemis architecture and this deep space commercial cargo capability integrates yet another American industry partner into our plans for human exploration at the Moon in preparation for a future mission to Mars."
NASA is planning multiple supply missions in which the cargo spacecraft will stay at the Gateway for six to 12 months at a time, according to the release.