The European Space Agency is calling for proposals for sending humans to the Moon, as well as for technology that will sustain crews while there. The agency is looking for proposals to leverage in-situ resources utilization technologies to help create a sustainable off-Earth colony, like the “Moon Village” concept ESA’s director general Johann-Dietrich Woerner has proposed.
“We are looking to invest in the development and pay for the use of technology that can turn indigenous lunar material into oxygen and water, critical resources for sustaining future human operations in deep space,” the agency said in a statement released this week.
ESA believes ISRU technologies will be crucial for developing sustainable habitats on the Moon. Building any habitats on the Moon will require ISRU technologies “deployed at the lunar surface to provide consumables and materials that will enable the sustainability of future human exploration missions,” it said. And the agency is betting that the private sector will be instrumental to developing these technologies .
“We want to hear what commercial partners need from us and share what we expect from them,” the statement said. “A commercial approach may just be the ticket – literally and figuratively – to making it happen.”
The ESA is now accepting proposals.
NASA & Roscosmos partner for deep space gateway
Interest in returning humans to the Moon is ramping up around the globe. NASA has decided to use the Moon to test its deep space exploration transportation systems — i.e. the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft — and has human missions planned for destinations such as Mars. On 27 September, NASA and Russian space agency Roscosmos announced a new partnership that’ll see both agencies working on advancing those goals with the development of the deep space gateway.
While the deep space gateway is still only a concept, NASA is considering positioning the gateway in lunar orbit in order to support robotic or partner missions to the surface of the moon.
In a description of its deep space gateway, NASA said it believes “the area of space near the moon offers a true deep space environment to gain experience for human missions that push farther into the solar system, access the lunar surface for robotic missions but with the ability to return to Earth if needed in days rather than weeks or month.”
According to a release from Roscosmos, NASA is also considering using Roscosmos’s Proton-M and Angara rockets to help assemble the gateway and create other supporting infrastructure.