Details are still being fleshed out, but AMSAT and ARISS are working on the design of an Amateur Radio system for NASA’s Lunar Gateway. As NASA explains, the Gateway “will be a small spaceship in orbit around the moon that will provide access to more of the lunar surface than ever before with living quarters for astronauts, a lab for science and research, ports for visiting spacecraft, and more.” For NASA, the Lunar Gateway is “a spaceport for human and robotic exploration to the moon and beyond.” For radio amateurs, the Lunar Gateway will represent the next step in moving ham radio out of low-Earth orbit and into deep space. Under the current timeline, initial sections of the Gateway are scheduled to launch in 2022, with the Gateway in lunar orbit by 2026.
“To make this happen, we are leveraging the work and expertise of the worldwide AMSAT organizations and the international ARISS community in this endeavor,” ARISS-International Chair and AMSAT Vice President for Human Spaceflight Programs Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said. “We have an international team working on this and are meeting twice a month to mature the concept.” The ARISS concept was presented to NASA in May and got positive feedback, and was favorably received a few weeks later at the ARISS-International meeting in Montreal from the Canadian Space Agency’s Gateway Program Manager.
“The Amateur Radio Exploration (AREx) team has done some really good work,” Bauer continued. “The challenge for amateurs will be on the order of a 30 dB signal path loss as compared to LEO. But the link margins on our design seem too close.”