Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been awarded a contract by NASA worth $935 million to execute the preliminary design and development of the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO). The US space research agency has teamed with commercial and international partners to build a Gateway to support science investigations and enable surface landings at the Moon, which will help prepare astronauts for future missions to Mars.
According to a press release issued by NASA, “Northrop Grumman will be responsible for attaching and testing the integrated HALO with the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), being built by Maxar Technologies. Northrop Grumman will also lead the integrated PPE and HALO spacecraft turnover and launch preparation with SpaceX, and support activation and checkout of HALO during the flight to lunar orbit. NASA is targeting November 2024 to launch the integrated spacecraft on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket”. 
NASA is building the infrastructure to expand human exploration further out into the solar system than ever before, including Gateway, the lunar space station that will help us make inspirational scientific discoveries at and around the Moon. Just as importantly, these investments will help NASA carry out the United States horizon goal: to further develop and test the technology and science needed for a human trip to Mars, said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. The HALO is a critical component of Gateway, and this exciting announcement today brings us one step closer to landing American boots on both the Moon and Mars the statement added. 
Habitation and Logistics Outpost is where astronauts will live and conduct research while visiting the Gateway. The pressurized living quarters will provide command and control systems for the lunar outpost, and docking ports for visiting spacecraft, such as NASAs Orion spacecraft, lunar landers, and logistics resupply craft.
The HALO module will serve as the backbone for command and control and power distribution across Gateway and will perform other core functions, including hosting science investigations via internal and external payload accommodations and communicating with lunar surface expeditions. HALO also will enable the aggregation of additional habitable elements to expand Gateway capabilities. Immediately after launch, the Heliophysics Environmental and Radiation Measurement Experiment Suite, built by NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will begin researching outside of the integrated spacecraft.
Meanwhile, China is also planning to establish a base in the south pole of the moon and is deploying robotic expeditions to asteroids and Jupiter around 2030.
As the US space agency tries to shape standards for building long-term settlements on the lunar surface, 8 countries have signed an international pact for moon exploration as a part of NASA’s Artemis.

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