First ever space 'petrol station' will be built in the UK and orbit the Moon as part of the Lunar Gateway to keep it refuelled with chemical propellants

 The first ever space 'petrol station' will be built in the UK as part of a project to support upcoming NASA missions to the Moon.

Aerospace manufacturer Thales Alenia Space will construct the chemical refuelling station, which will be launched into space in 2027, at its three UK sites – in Bristol, Belfast and Oxfordshire. 

The station will refuel the Lunar Gateway – a space station that will orbit the Moon and serve as a communication hub and science laboratory – with xenon and other chemical propellants.  

The Lunar Gateway will serve as a 'waypoint' for astronauts exploring the surface of the Moon and eventually Mars

The Lunar Gateway will serve as a 'waypoint' for astronauts exploring the surface of the Moon and eventually Mars


'Creating the first ever space fuel station on British soil is yet another example of how we are leading the world in space innovation, especially as this incredible project will be vital for future exploration of the moon and Mars,' said Science Minister Amanda Solloway.  


'I am delighted that this game-changing technology is going to be supporting nearly 200 high skilled jobs right here in the UK, increasing our standing as a global space power.'

French company Thales employs nearly 200 teams of engineers and scientists across its three UK sites. 

The Lunar Gateway space station will orbit the Moon and serve as a communications hub and science laboratory for long-term exploration of the lunar surface

The Lunar Gateway space station will orbit the Moon and serve as a communications hub and science laboratory for long-term exploration of the lunar surface

It is one of many UK businesses that will play a 'key role' in supporting the Lunar Gateway project.

'A human presence on the Moon would also give us a unique vantage point for observing Earth’s surface, atmosphere and biosphere,' said Thales Alenia Space CEO Herve Derrey in a blog post.

'Such an ability to scrutinise Earth from the Moon could prove indispensable for monitoring the terrestrial environment and anticipating the risks and fallouts of climate change, for example. 

'Looking even further ahead, the Moon could effectively become a natural Earth observation satellite.'

UK businesses are involved in building the service module and habitation module of the Lunar Gateway, pictured in this artist's impression. The UK has already committed over £16 million for the first phase of the design for the service module and habitation module

UK businesses are involved in building the service module and habitation module of the Lunar Gateway, pictured in this artist's impression. The UK has already committed over £16 million for the first phase of the design for the service module and habitation module

The announcement follows as part of the 'historic agreement' signed by the UK Space Agency, NASA and other partners on Tuesday that will lay the groundwork for future space missions.  

Businesses across the UK will be involved in building the service module and habitation module of the Lunar Gateway.  

The UK has already committed more than £16 million for the first phase of the design of these two elements. 

The lunar space station is expected to play a major role in NASA's Artemis programme.

Artemis plans to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, specifically at the lunar south pole region. 

NASA's Artemis mission plans to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024

NASA's Artemis mission plans to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024 

It is also hoped that establishing a sustainable lunar presence will ultimately be used as a 'stepping stone' for the first human mission to Mars.

The UK Space Agency said that the participation of multiple UK businesses in the project will generate economic benefits and high-skilled jobs.

The US has also worked with the UK, Japan, Australia, Canada, Italy and the UAE, to develop the Artemis Accords – a set of principles to govern the behaviour of countries participating in the 2024 Moon mission. 

The Accords will ensure a shared understanding of safe operations, use of space resources, minimising space debris and sharing scientific data. 

NASA impression of Artemis astronauts on the surface of Moon. While NASA is leading the Artemis programme, international partnerships with countries including the UK will help develop 'a safe and sustainable human presence' there

NASA impression of Artemis astronauts on the surface of Moon. While NASA is leading the Artemis programme, international partnerships with countries including the UK will help develop 'a safe and sustainable human presence' there

As part of the wider collaboration agreement between the UK, NASA and other international partners, UK firms will also build other aspects of the Artemis mission. 

A British company called SSTL are building satellites that will provide communications between the Moon, the Lunar Gateway and Earth. 

This will allow scientists and astronauts working on the Gateway or the lunar surface to stay in contact with Earth even if they are on the far side of the Moon.

British universities will also benefit from the Artemis agreement, with the University of Oxford and the Open University both planning missions to search for water.

These water will then be used by astronauts based on the surface to produce fuel, drinking water or oxygen.

First ever space 'petrol station' will be built in the UK and orbit the Moon as part of the Lunar Gateway to keep it refuelled with chemical propellants First ever space 'petrol station' will be built in the UK and orbit the Moon as part of the Lunar Gateway to keep it refuelled with chemical propellants Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 05:49 Rating: 5

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