PARIS --- The European Space Agency (ESA) has just signed a one-year contract with ArianeGroup to study and prepare for a mission to go to the Moon with the aim of mining regolith. 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.
To carry out this study, ArianeGroup with Arianespace joined forces with a German start-up, PTScientists, which will provide the lunar lander, and a Belgian SME, Space Applications Services, which will provide the ground control facilities, the communications and the associated service operations.
This 100% European innovative consortium could thus provide services for the entire mission, from launch and moon transfer to moon landing and communication on the moon’s surface of the payloads needed for the mission.
“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,” explained 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. In this year, marking the fiftieth anniversary of Man’s first steps on the Moon, ArianeGroup will thus support all current and future European projects, in line with its mission to guarantee independent, sovereign access to space for Europe.”
"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." added Dr. David Parker; Director, Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA.
As a European player in the new Moon race, ArianeGroup will be one of the patrons of the “The Moon, a journey from the real to the imaginary” exhibition, which will be held from 3 April to 22 July at the Grand Palais in Paris, looking at how human beings, in particular artists, have interacted with this celestial body from ancient times to the present day.
ArianeGroup develops and supplies innovative and competitive solutions for civil and military space launchers, with expertise in all aspects of state-of-the-art propulsion technologies. ArianeGroup is lead contractor for Europe’s Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 launcher families, responsible for both design and the entire production chain, up to and including marketing by its Arianespace subsidiary, as well as for the missiles of the French oceanic deterrent force. The group is a joint venture equally owned by Airbus and Safran, and employs approximately 9,000 highly qualified staff in France and Germany. Its 2017 revenues amounted to 3.4 billion euros.