SpaceX Dragon XL Will Supply 5 Tons to the NASA Lunar Gateway

NASA has selected SpaceX as the first U.S. commercial provider under the Gateway Logistics Services contract to deliver cargo, experiments and other supplies to the agency’s Gateway in lunar orbit.

The NASA announcement also revealed a larger version of the SpaceX manned Dragon capsule, Dragon XL.

The SpaceX Dragon XL appears to be bigger than the Dragon Capsule. The extra size may just for the fuel and engines to reach the needed lunar orbit for the Gateway. Steve Jurvetson, billionaire Venture Capitalist and SpaceX investor, says SpaceX Dragon XL will supply 5 tons to the lunar gateway or the moon.

NASA is planning multiple supply missions in which the cargo spacecraft will stay at the Gateway for six to 12 months at a time. These firm-fixed price, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts for logistics services guarantee two missions per logistics services provider with a maximum total value of $7 billion across all contracts as additional missions are needed.

SOURCES- NASA, Steve Jurvetson, SpaceX
Written By Brian Wang,

23 thoughts on “SpaceX Dragon XL Will Supply 5 Tons to the NASA Lunar Gateway”

  1. The ISS could be used for a variety of purposes. I think a better use for the ISS than letting it burn up in the atmosphere is for the group of nations that built the ISS could give it a new lease on life by moving it to a lagrange point. There the ISS could be used as a testbed for reclamation and manufacturing in space. Develop the in orbit technologies for the repair or retrieval of satellites, the refine scrap metals, the forging alloys, and the manufacturing of finished systems. We need to learn how to do all that in space, so why not start with the ISS?

  2. Yeah… I’ve been to subjected to that explanation numerous times, and it just doesn’t sit right with me… We wouldn’t park ISS in a higher orbit so people could continue to live in it. The radiation exposure levels are a bit relevant.

  3. Hard to justify Gateway for Moon. Better than Moon for Mars start, but that assumes Mars goal. We need to decide: O’Neill or gravity wells. Both is insane. Another, distant gravity well first is evil. An evil we have already squandered 40 years following.

  4. It was an *accident* of timing, with the Wall, and an ideally beneficial *accidental* advantage as a tourist trap. Who would have started with such an orbit, given the expense, and who would have realized or been able to sell such an advantage at first? Sell this to rich tourists, they may not clearly realize the difference.

  5. I’m not sure I’d call that an “accident”, as it was a deliberate decision. But is sure has made the thing more expensive.

  6. Surely the football field sized solar arrays would be useful to someone? Worst-case the mass could be used for shielding in higher orbits…

  7. One curious fact about ISS is that it is *accidentally* in the high inclination orbit, due to the unexpected addition of Russia to the project after the fall of the Wall.
    This is the tourist orbit! Who wants to see the equator over and over, compared to the whole Earth almost?

  8. Personally, I hope that by the time the ISS hits its EOL, Starship is working well enough that it can be used to take the ISS down section-by-section and put it in a musuem. Or hell, build to build a much bigger space station/hotel right around the ISS, turning it into a historic site in space.

  9. Makes use of Falcon Heavy and Dragon development and keeps F9 first stages in regular use until Starship system is finished and proven. As others have suggested, also forms the core of a potential Falcon Lunar Lander with fairly modest enhancements, and sets them up for lunar cargo/passenger delivery too. Musk may come across as a little mad at times, but he’s smart…

  10. I saw some video on Youtube which showed a possible lander configuration of this thing. So it had a “skirt” with some landing legs on it.

  11. Basically right now we are spending all our time and money keeping the junker sports car in the yard running instead of buying a much more reliable truck.

  12. Best explanations I have heard are:

    Some parts of ISS are getting old and had a planned lifetime.
    ISS wasn’t designed to do this, different radiation environment than LEO.

  13. Maybe someone with more relevant engineering experience can answer a question I’ve contemplated for over 20 years…

    Why would it be smarter to deorbit the ISS after it’s retired versus pushing it into a higher orbit where it could be salvaged for parts that the US, the Europeans, Japan, and Russia could use for other projects like the Lunar Gateway?

  14. It’s interesting to look back on Musk’s initial starship announcement (or was it MCT?) when he expressed some apathy toward Falcon Heavy as if it may have been wasted effort. I think I would say that it’s an essential bridge that gives SpaceX years of “runway” to develop Starship.

  15. Agree. If they delegate it to SpaceX, we can optimistically expect to see the Gateway in the second half of this decade.

    On the other hand, the Senate Launch System always manages to out-do themselves with cost overruns and delays. So a SLS built Gateway would be in the losing end of an already crashing trainwreck, and be delayed so much it would become a running joke on the 2030s, a decade that will most likely see private space hotels and crewed trips to the Moon and Mars (yes, it can even happen on this one, just being conservative due to the ongoing recession).

  16. Depends on whether NASA decides to use the SLS or SpaceX to get the Gateway up.

    If the SLS, I’m thinking… never, optimistically.

  17. Good move.

    Despite our opinion and wishes, Starship will take some time to be validated and accepted as a viable solution for cargo launches by NASA. Forget about crew launches.

    And it represents an additional source of revenue for SpaceX, with a relatively low investment, given it will be based on their existing designs.

  18. Short stack DXL might be able to function as a space station module delivery vehicle, much in the same vein as hacked up Progress vehicles are used to deliver russian space station modules.

  19. Whether required or not, I can see Musk designing some secondary role for this Dragon once it has fulfilled the terms of the NASA contract.

    I don’t see him just tossing the whole conestoga after a single use.

    A fleet of cycling Earth-Moon buses? Earth-Mars craft? Mini-motel for tourists?

  20. So, a nice revenue stream, which will likely materialize long after SpaceX needs it.

    When’s this gateway going to launch at this rate? 2030, optimistically?

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