NASA and Russia have teamed up to build a space station that will orbit the Moon and will be open to astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world. Called the Deep Space Gateway, it will serve as a research base and stage area so humans can reach out further into the universe and eventually complete missions to Mars.

Construction is set to begin as soon as 2022, and the first modules will be completed two years later. Other countries expected to join the plans include China, India, Brazil, and South Africa.

Image credit: NASA / KSC / Engadget
Image credit: NASA / KSC / Engadget

Roscosmos Igor Komarov, head of Russia’s space agency, announced Wednesday at the Astronautical Congress in Adelaide that the first step will be to build an orbital part and further plans will be focused on “implementing the fulfilled technologies on the moon,” as reported by Sputnik news. Those systems will be later installed on Mars, he added.

Roscosmos and NASA declared that the two nations shared the same vision for space exploration.

The area of space near the moon was chosen to build the Deep Space Gateway because it is close enough to Earth so that humans can return to the blue planet in just a matter of days and the moon’s surface will be available for robotic missions.

Moreover, the orbital space station will be built in that area to take advantage of a deep space environment that will allow astronauts to gain the experience needed to explore further into the universe, NASA said in a statement, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Plans were first revealed in spring 2016. The Gateway will be powered by a technology developed by Nasa, which it has named as a Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) system. It uses ten times less energy than traditional methods for rocket propulsion.

A vehicle called the Deep Space Transport will be designed to shield passengers from the harsh environment typical of deep-space areas. Similarly to the commercial vehicles that dock with the International Space Station, this one will be able to dock with the Gateway.

Roscosmos revealed that systems involving docking ports and life support would be based on Russian design given that they are more experienced in running a space station. His statement also unveiled plans to create international technical standards for the space station orbiting the moon.

SpaceX to release further details of its plans to reach deep space

Also in the mood of exploring deep space, Elon Musk is expected to reveal details of his plans to reach Mars next Friday at the International Astronautical Congress. The SpaceX boss will unveil further information about the spaceship the company will build to take humans to the red planet for an accessible price.

Called the Interplanetary Transport System, the vehicle is a reusable rocket-and-spaceship vehicle. With a space station orbiting the moon, his ambitious ideas will seem more realistic.

The event will take place in Adelaide, Australia, and those interested in plans to build a human colony on Mars will be able to watch the live-streamed congress.

Source: Daily Mail