NASA has picked space technology company Maxar Technologies Inc. as the first contractor to help build its Gateway platform in lunar orbit, a crucial outpost for America’s mission to relay astronauts to the moon in 2024, the US agency said on Thursday.
Shares of Westminster, Colo. Maxar jumped more than 20 percent following the announcement by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at a meeting sponsored by a Florida college.
The Trump administration has made a return to the moon a high priority for the U.S. space program, saying the mission would establish a foundation for an eventual journey to put humans on Mars.
Vice President Mike Pence announcement on March 26 that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration plans to build a space platform in lunar orbit and put American astronauts on the moon’s south pole by 2024 “by any means necessary,” four years earlier than previously planned.
Maxar Technologies, formerly SSL, will develop power, propulsion and communications components for the lunar mobile command and service module, NASA said.
The power and propulsion element is a 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft, three times more powerful than current capabilities, NASA said.