• Gateway will serve as the home base for astronauts on Moon missions
  • The first two instruments for Gateway have finally been selected
  • More instruments that can take advantage of the lunar orbit will be selected in the future
  • The first major Gateway part is planned for launch by 2022

NASA has selected the first science instruments for the Gateway lunar outpost. One of the instruments is built by NASA and the other is built by the European Space Agency (ESA). Both will help mitigate the risks of space travel for astronauts.

First Two Instruments

NASA's plans to return to the Moon are quickly coming to fruition and the agency just took another step closer by finally selecting the first two scientific investigations that will fly aboard Gateway, which is the spaceship that will serve as the Moon mission astronauts' home and office in orbit.

One of the instruments is an ESA-built radiation instrument package that will monitor the radiation exposure in orbit so as to provide insight on how to keep astronauts safe. Similarly, the other instrument, a NASA-built space weather instrument, also aims to minimize the risks for astronauts; this time, by observing solar particles and solar wind.

Together, the instruments can help improve our understanding of unpredictable space conditions, such as violent solar outbursts, and provide insight on how the possible risks to astronauts’ lives can be prevented. The information gathered by these instruments will not only be helpful for the Moon missions but for future missions to Mars as well.

More scientific payloads that can take advantage of the unique environment that the lunar orbit provides will be selected in the future. The above instruments are just the first two to be selected.


Gateway is a small spaceship being developed by NASA and its partners to serve as the home base for astronauts in the future. Just as the International Space Station (ISS) orbits Earth, Gateway will orbit the Moon and have living quarters, laboratories for science, and docking ports along with other features that can support both human and robotic missions.

Except, unlike the ISS, which has a year-round human presence, the much smaller Gateway will only have astronaut visitors at least once per year for periods of just up to three months at a time.

The current target to complete the Gateway is for 2026, with the first major part expected to be launched by 2022 and the human habitation module by 2023. The goal is to build Gateway completely in just five or six rocket launches, which means it could be built significantly faster than the 34 launches it took to build the ISS.

"Building the Gateway with our commercial and international partners is a critical component of sustainable lunar exploration and the Artemis program," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. "Using the Gateway as a platform for robotic and human exploration around the Moon will help inform what we do on the lunar surface as well as prepare us for our next giant leap – human exploration of Mars."

Image: Artist Illustration of Gateway, NASA's lunar outpost that will serve as the temporary home and office for Moon mission astronauts. NASA