Europe aims for lunar missions in 2025



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ArianeGroup has signed a contract with the European Space Agency ESA to study the possibility of going to the moon, the first for Europe. The Belgian company has been linked to the project.

After Russia, the United States and China, Europe in turn can go to the Moon: The European Space Agency (ESA) has entrusted launch company ArianeGroup, Ariane rocket manufacturer, with a study of the possibility of landings on our satellite before 2025. The first for the European continent, which at the same time can show the presence of autonomous humans.

The announcement was made by André-Hubert Roussel, the group's new chief executive, during an appointment for the press. "I believe that conquest of space is very important for the future of humanity in general: Europe must replace it", Roussel, who took office on January 1, replaces Alain Charmeau.


"Conquest of space is very important for the future of mankind."

André-Hubert Roussel

CEO of ArianeGroup

Such a mission can be based on a new launcher that Europe will acquire from 2020: Ariane 6 rockets will make their first flight on this date, and will replace the current Ariane 5 after 2023 at the end of the transition period. According to Roussel, Ariane 6, in its most powerful version, is capable of carrying up to 8.5 tons in cislunary orbit.

The purpose of this mission is the exploitation of regolith, ore that allows to extract water and oxygen, making it possible to consider human existence autonomously on the Moon and also to produce the fuel needed for exploration missions. further. The main target of the researchers, however, is to still exploit water locked in the moon's polar ice: it can be separated into hydrogen and oxygen, two gases which, mixed, can supply engine rockets.

Belgian SMEs

For Europe, this is a question to affirm its ambition and maintain its access to space, but also to advance science. ESA boss Jan Woerner has proposed in 2015 to replace the International Space Station in orbit around Earth with a permanent moon village.

The ArianeGroup Study is part of ESA's global plan to make Europe a major global partner in the field of exploration in the next decade. This plan will be presented at the end of the year at the Space 19+ meeting, which brings together the ESA Council at the ministerial level.

For the realization of this study, ArianeGroup and its subsidiary, Arianespace, are associated with new German companies, PTScientists, who will provide the Regional Government, and Belgian SMEs, Space Application Services, which will supply land segments, communication equipment, and related service operations. This consortium will be able to provide services for all missions: from launch to transfer to the moon, but also for moon landings and communications to operate the cargo needed to achieve the mission.

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