24th January 2019
A plan to start mining on the Moon by 2025
ArianeGroup has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to examine the possibility of going to the Moon before 2025 and starting to mine the regolith.
It is possible that water and oxygen could be extracted from the lunar regolith, thus enabling an independent human presence capable of producing the fuel needed for more distant space missions.
To carry out this project, ArianeGroup with Arianespace is joining forces with a German start-up, PTScientists, which will provide the lunar lander, and a Belgian aerospace company, Space Applications Services, which will provide the ground control facilities, communications and associated service operations. This 100% European consortium could therefore provide services for the entire mission – from launch and Moon transfer, to landing and communication on the surface. Ariane 64, the four-booster version of Ariane 6, would enable this mission to carry the equipment needed.
"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. 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,” said David Parker, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA.
As a European player in the new Moon race, ArianeGroup will be one of the patrons of an exhibition – "The Moon, a journey from the real to the imaginary" – running from 3rd April to 22nd July at the Grand Palais in Paris. It will show how human beings, in particular artists and scientists, have interacted with this celestial body from ancient times to the present day.
• Follow us on Twitter
• Follow us on Facebook
• Subscribe to us on YouTube