JAN 09, 2024 10:15 AM PST

UAE to Provide Airlock for Gateway, Humanity's First Moon Orbiting Space Station

In a major step towards returning humans to the Moon for the first time since 1972, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently announced they will be providing the airlock for NASA’s Lunar Gateway, which is the planned space station that will be in orbit around the Moon and responsible for ferrying future astronauts to and from the lunar surface.

Artist’s rendition of the Lunar Gateway (left) and a potential future airlock provided by the UAE (right). (Credit: NASA)

“The United States and the United Arab Emirates are marking a historic moment in our nations’ collaboration in space, and the future of human space exploration,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “We are in a new era of exploration through Artemis – strengthened by the peaceful and international exploration of space. The UAE’s provision of the airlock to Gateway will allow astronauts to conduct groundbreaking science in deep space and prepare to one day send humanity to Mars.”

This announcement continues the longstanding partnership between NASA and the UAE, as both countries are founding member nations on the Artemis Accords, which is a non-binding multilateral agreement between the United States and a multitude of countries as a framework for space cooperation, both on the Moon and beyond.

While this announcement comes as NASA plans to delay future Artemis missions due to NASA’s Inspector General citing “three main challenges” NASA must address before humans can safely fly to the Moon, the partnership with the MBRSC is undoubtedly a step in the right direction for the long-term future of NASA’s Artemis program, whose goal is to land the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface.

The UAE isn’t the only international partner on Gateway, as the future orbiting platform will be designed, built, and managed by a myriad of international and commercial partners. Along with serving lunar surface operations, Gateway will also act as a science platform like the International Space Station (ISS) while preparing astronauts for deep space missions, specifically to Mars.

How will Lunar Gateway contribute to NASA’s Artemis program and future space exploration in the coming years and decades? Only time will tell, and this is why we science!

As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!

Sources: NASA, NASA (1), NASA (2), NASA (3), Reuters

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran who earned both a BSc and MSc from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Laurence is extremely passionate about outer space and science communication, and is the author of "Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey".
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