While ESA plans their moon mission they are calling upon commercial companies to enlist their creativity and talent to make use of the resources on the moon. One of the companies selected to take part in the program is the German new-space company, PTScientists, to develop potential lunar missions that could make use of resources found on the Moon.
The Lunar Mission Definition Study aims to find out whether the Agency could conduct a Moon mission by utilizing lunar services, such as payloads and delivery to the Moon, developed by commercial partners. These capabilities are already being developed by the private sector and should be available to ESA by the mid-2020s.
The space industry is evolving, with a more diverse range of actors in the sector, from private companies to industry, academia and individuals. As part of the Agency’s push towards “Space 4.0”, where space is no longer the sole preserve of government agencies, ESA has selected six companies to work on potential mission designs. PTScientists is delighted to have been selected as one of the companies for the transport segment of the study.
ESA has a strong interest in testing and maturing lunar ISRU (in-situ resource utilization) technologies to produce drinkable water or breathable oxygen in support of future sustainable human Moon missions. The Lunar ISRU Demonstration Mission Definition Study is a step towards this and will also help to foster commercial lunar services.
Robert Boehme, CEO and Founder of Berlin-based PTScientists said that the emergence of new-space companies around the globe has opened up the space sector to new players, and while the U.S. has been leading the way in terms of public and private space working together, it is great to see this trend picking up speed in Europe.
He added that they want to become a lunar transport infrastructure provider, and it is a great boost to the company to know that ESA is serious about working with commercial partners such as PTScientists.
PTScientists wants to bring down the cost of lunar exploration and science to enable a greater range of participants from across the globe. Their first mission — Mission to the Moon — will demonstrate the ALINA spacecraft and lander, and transport two Audi lunar quattro rovers to the lunar surface. They are also working with Vodafone to test an innovative 4G lunar-surface communications set-up.
ESA hopes to realize a lunar mission that will test technology designed to extract useful elements from resources found on the Moon by 2025, with an industrial procurement budget below €250m. In order to realize the mission according to budget and schedule, the Agency plans to procure lunar service capabilities from the private sector for the ISRU payload delivery to the Moon surface, for lunar communications, and operations.
David Parker, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration. added that commercial partnerships are playing a growing role in the exciting ESA vision for space exploration, and actions underway already include new ways to increase the use of the ISS. In future, procuring services from industry alongside international cooperation could allow ESA to move faster in their planned exploration of the Moon.