The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that it plans to land a series of manned missions on the moon by the end of the next decade. However, they intend to first send robots on their initial missions, before sending astronauts.
The agency released the following statement: “ESA’s plan calls for human habitation in lunar orbit, where astronauts would control robots on the lunar surface below. Lunar rovers, telerobotics, and hybrid surface power are some of the innovative approaches that are being developed to support these early missions. The vision is truly international. Space agencies, the private sector, and industry are working towards a common lunar exploration. The agency sees this mission as a next step after the International Space Station.”
ESA has stated that it wants to launch a number of mechanized explorers and utilities, which will include rovers, telebots and hybrid surface power. These machines will assist astronauts as they tool about the surface of Moon in search of resources like frozen water ice to sustain future missions.
According to the agency, the first robot sent will be the PILOT precision-landing and hazard-avoidance system. They will arrive at the moon’s south pole aboard a Russian Luna 27 rocket in 2020.
Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of the French space agency, said, “This is not a bad thing, to have a kind of idea factory. I don’t know if his Moon Village will be adopted — there are lots of ideas being kicked around on multiple subjects. But it’s good to have an idea. The Moon is certainly easier than Mars — that’s a fact. There’s no launch window and it’s less expensive. It’s also clear there is less scientific interest in it.”
Meanwhile, NASA are busy creating plans to send astronauts to the space, sometime in the middle of the next decade, to spend months at a time aboard spacecraft operating near the moon. NASA isn’t keen on lunar missions, and has its eyes set on Mars mission instead.