Aug 6, 2008

European Logistics for NASA Lunar Base

NASA’s project to go back to the moon: Project Constellation, initiated in 2004 by President Bush's “Vision for Space exploration”, clearly stated exploration ambitions for the 20 upcoming years including:
  • Completion of the ISS by 2010
  • Retire and replace the Space Shuttle by respectively 2010 and 2014
  • Perform Lunar exploration mission both robotic (from 2008) and manned (from 2020)
  • Perform robotic and manned solar system exploration mission such as Mars and Near Earth Objects (NEO) such as Asteroids or Comets – (unspecified deadline)

One of the aspects less known about this law (because the “Vision for Space exploration” is actually defined under US law) is that in order to achieve those objectives, it calls for international cooperation. In this frame, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have been working jointly in order to develop an International Architecture for Lunar Exploration.

It is clear that NASA, with its capabilities, will be the only contributor on several segments of such an architecture, in particular the manned transportation segments. However, as the ESA-NASA study concluded, Europe could provide a Logistic Lander based on Europe's Ariane 5 Launch Vehicle.

The latest assessment shows that if such landers are produced by ESA with a frequency of 2 per year, it would double the available time for manned lunar surface operations in the first year of the plan (in comparison with from the 5th year with the existing plans).

This video produced by NASA shows how the cooperation could look:

It seems that the ESA-NASA joint work is still on going and that NASA is now also discussing possible cooperation with other international space agencies.

Related Posts :


Post a Comment