Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

Europe is ratcheting up the strategic significance of the Moon in a global space exploration endeavor.

For example, in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Exploration Strategy it spells out the mission theme of “sustainable exploration of the Moon is integrated in the strategic exploration approach for Europe.”

A guiding principle in Europe is to implement exploration missions with humans and robots in a coordinated manner.

Key to realizing the Lunar Exploration Vision 2030 is the step-wise deployment of international exploration architecture. This vision envisages access for robots and humans to previously unexplored regions.

International vision

The ESA exploration strategy considers the Moon as the next destination for humans venturing beyond low Earth orbit and an integral element of the roadmap towards humans missions to Mars.

Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

“The international vision for lunar exploration calls for a new era of coordinated human and robotic missions enabled by broad international cooperation,” explains former astronaut, Thomas Reiter, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations.

Reiter notes that the ISS program has demonstrated the importance of a robust international partnership for the station’s development, assembly, operations and effective utilization.

“Now is the time to build on this partnership and open it to new partners to continue the journey beyond low Earth orbit,” Reiter says.

Investments

There are investments by governments and private stakeholders in space exploration, such as:

— In Europe the program of Life and Physical Science in Space (ELIPS) helps understanding how humans can live and work in space.

— A Russian-lead Luna program that takes the next steps in automated exploration of the lunar surface.

— ESA already contributes to the critical path of human transpiration beyond low Earth orbit by providing the service module to the US-lead Orion vehicle.

Credit: ESA

Credit: ESA

Sustainable and affordable framework

“This is the time to formulate a concrete vision of how to explore the Moon in the next decade in a sustainable and affordable framework,” explains an ESA brochure for an upcoming ESA-led symposium titled: International Symposium on MOON 2020-2030 – A New Era of Coordinated Human and Robotic Exploration.

The symposium will feature technical sessions addressing the strategies and challenges of human robotic cooperation on the Moon.

The meeting is to be held December 15-16 at ESA/ESTEC in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

For more information, go to:

http://spaceflight.esa.int/humanrobotics/

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