Bridenstine on Gateway
Bridenstine: So the Gateway represents... When we think about the architecture, we know what reusable rockets have done for the United States of America and for our access to space. And those reusable rockets are available because we have done things like Commercial Crew, Commercial Re-Supply, the the EELV program for the Air Force. These capabilities have really enabled, or these, I should say, business models have enabled innovation: where you've got providers competing on innovation and on cost. So because of these capabilities, we have more access to space than ever before and reusability of rockets is a big piece of that. Well, we want the entire architecture between the Earth and the moon to be reusable. So we want reusable launch. We want reusable tugs between Earth orbit and lunar orbit. And we want the Gateway to be in that Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit where it requires very little propulsion to maintain that orbit. We want to be there for a very long period of time for those reusable capabilities to go back and forth. And we want reusable landers to go back and forth from the Gateway to the surface of the Moon. So, all of that I think is a big piece of the architecture.
Now the president has said in Space Policy Directive 1 he wants to go back to the moon, and he wants to do it sustainably. Sustainably means we need everything to be reusable on the way there, as we have demonstrated with reusable rockets, it increases access, and decreases costs, and increases innovation. We want everything to be reusable, and then we want to take advantage of our international partners and our commercial partners. There are more space agencies around the world than at any point in history, and there are more commercial partners than any point in history. So all of this enables us to do more than ever before. And what the Gateway represents is that critical infrastructure, to where all of our partners can, in essence, have access to the surface of the Moon, and to orbit around the moon, and ultimately go back and forth from the Earth to the moon. So the Gateway is that critical piece of infrastructure. We want it to be an open architecture. We want all of the interfaces to be published. Whether it's power, or whether it's docking, we want it to be absolutely open so that international and commercial can use it and take advantage of it. And we want more access to more parts of the moon than ever before.
So what the Gateway gives us, to your question, what the Gateway gives us, is it gives us more access to more parts of the moon than ever before, and it gives us long-term sustainability at the moon that we've never had before. It's also true, because it's Solar Electric Propulsion, it's not as big as the International Space Station, but with Solar Electric Propulsion, it's not just going to be in an orbit around the moon, it's going to actually go to L2 and L1 and give us more access to more parts of the moon than ever before.
So you think about... From 1969, when we first went to the moon, all the way up until 2008 we believed that the moon, at least a lot of people believed that the moon was bone-dry. Because of our access to the moon. We had six missions, it was all in that equatorial region, and for all those years we believed the moon was bone-dry. Well in 2008, the Indians made a discovery. In 2009, NASA doubled down on that discovery. And now we know that there are hundreds of billions of tons of water ice on the surface of the Moon at the poles. Well that water ice represents a number of things. Chief among them is life support. It's water to drink. It's air to breathe. Hydrogen and oxygen. And even more importantly, or at least as importantly, it represents fuel. When you crack water into its component parts hydrogen and oxygen, you put it in a cryogenic form, that's the same propulsion that powered the Space Shuttles. So water discovered on the surface of the Moon should transform how we think about our activities in space.
And so in in my view the Gateway represents our ability to learn more about the moon than we've ever known, and we need to go to more parts of the moon than we've ever been able to get to before. We do that with Gateway as critical infrastructure, and then we have commercial and international partners, and our own landers to go back and forth between the Gateway and the moon, all in a reusable way for a sustainable architecture. Ultimately, the Gateway, the first Gateway is a technology demonstrator. And it's going to retire risk. That's what it's for. The second gateway that goes to the moon will be a Deep Space Transport. That will be our capability to get to Mars. That's the purpose of the Gateway. So we're going to be able to get to more parts of the moon than we've ever been able to get to before. And ultimately everything is going to be reusable. Gateway is the critical piece of infrastructure to make that possible. And it will ultimately be our Deep Space Transport. So the Gateway is important. And of course it's going to be important for for Kennedy as much as NASA. I would look for the Power and Propulsion Element to launch sometime around 2022. And that will be the first piece. Habitation shortly thereafter, maybe 2023.