The United States space agency NASA says it will partner with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, to build a “deep space gateway” in the vicinity of the moon.
The lunar space station, which is still in conceptual stage, is part of a long-term project aimed at putting humans on Mars.
Acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot said Wednesday, “NASA is pleased to see growing international interest in moving into cislunar space as the next step for advancing human space exploration." He added the gateway concept would serve as “an enabler to the kind of exploration architecture that is affordable and sustainable.”
The idea behind the gateway project is to build a spaceport that orbits the moon and would serve as a stopping point for explorations deeper into space.
NASA said it would work with Russians and other countries currently involved with the International Space Station to “identify common exploration objectives and possible missions for the 2020s.”
NASA also said it has been working with U.S. industry to create habitation concepts for the space gateway and it has awarded several contracts to researchers to study risks related to the deep space missions. Five prototypes of habitation systems are expected to be completed by 2018.