Northrop Grumman has announced that its Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) module has passed its preliminary design review. The module, which forms a key element of NASA’s Gateway deep space outpost, will act as a way station for future missions to the Moon and beyond.
If NASA’s ambitions to set up a permanent human presence of the Moon and to send an expedition to Mars are to be fulfilled, astronauts will need someplace to hang their space helmets. The HALO module is critical to this vision, acting as a place to house crew and a docking hub between low-Earth orbit and the cislunar region and beyond.
Because the first HALO unit is scheduled to launch in November 2023 along with the Power Propulsion Element module, primary contractor Northrop Grumman is pursuing a fast-track approach by basing the design on its already flown Cygnus robotic cargo ship, which has been used to transport supplies to the International Space Station. The design of the hull is basically the same, though it will have radial docking ports, body-mounted radiators, batteries and antenna installed on the outside.
Inside the HALO will be command and control systems as well as a life support system that can support four astronauts for up to 30 days, with the aid of the Orion spacecraft. All of this will allow the module to act as both a crew habitat and a docking hub for other vehicles, such as a lunar lander.
“By basing the HALO module on Cygnus, we are able to deliver an affordable and reliable flight-proven product on an accelerated timeline,” says Steve Krein, vice president, civil and commercial satellites, Northrop Grumman. “Maturing HALO through its preliminary design marks a major milestone in the module’s production.”
Source: Northrop Grumman
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