Not only the United States and Russia are interested in exploiting the resources of the Moon and planning permanent bases there, recently, but China has also put its Chang’e-4 lander on the dark side and now the European Space Agency plans to send a mission as well.
Apparently, a new space race has begun, as the European Space Agency has revealed new plans for a European lunar colony.
According to reports, a company called ArianeGroup has signed a one-year contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to study the possibility of sending a mission to the moon by 2025, which will aim to extract regolith, reports the company on their website.
“This first contract – symbolically announced on the day of a lunar eclipse – is a milestone for ArianeGroup, which has for a long time been working on technological proposals for space logistics servicing,” said André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup.
“It is also an opportunity to recall the ability of Ariane 64 to carry out Moon missions for its institutional customers, with a payload capacity of up to 8.5 metric tons.”
The European Space Agency is already working on a new facility at ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. The facility is expected to serve as a three-part moon analog environment on Earth, where scientists are expected to simulate lunar soil and the lunar habitat.
The new facility will be known as Luna and will consist of up to 1,000 square meters at the Astronaut Centre.
“As ESA and other agencies prepare to send humans back to the Moon – this time to stay – technologies that make use of materials available in space (in-situ resource utilization) are seen as key to sustainability, and a stepping stone in humankind’s adventure to Mars and farther into the Solar System,” the space agency revealed in a statement.
“In the longer term, resources in space may even be used on Earth. Regolith is an ore from which it is possible to extract water and oxygen, thus enabling an independent human presence on the Moon to be envisaged, capable of producing the fuel needed for more distant exploratory missions,” the European Space Agency has revealed.
The mission will see Europe compete with the US, Russia, and China, all of whom are developing their respective moon missions, and want to build permanent bases on the lunar surface.
“The use of space resources could be a key to sustainable lunar exploration and this study is part of ESA’s comprehensive plan to make Europe a partner in global exploration in the next decade – a plan we will put to our Ministers for decision later this year at the Space19+ Conference.’ explained Dr. David Parker; Director, Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA.