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Consortia tasked with boosting European moon exploration

Space agency sees opportunity for ‘enabling’ lunar communication and navigation satellites

The European Space Agency has signed contracts with two consortia to explore the practicalities of putting communication and navigation satellites into orbit around the moon.

Two mostly private consortia, led by the UK’s Surrey Satellite Technology Limited and Italy’s Telespazio, will sketch out how local satellite support could work for future lunar missions, the agency said on 20 May.

“A lasting link with the Moon enables sustainable space exploration for all our international partners, including commercial space companies,” said Elodie Viau, Esa’s head of telecommunications.

“By using an Esa-backed telecommunications and navigation service for the Moon, explorers will be able to navigate smoothly and to relay to Earth all the knowledge gained from these lunar missions,” she added.

No timeframe was given for when the consortia will complete their work.