PTScientists and ArianeGroup agreed on 8 May 2019 in Berlin on a far-reaching cooperation. The contract governs the cooperation between the two companies for future Moon missions such as the planned ISRU mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and beyond.
The signing took place at the Zeiss-Grossplanetarium in Berlin in the presence of Thomas Jarzombek, Coordinator of the Federal Government for Aerospace and ESA Director for Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration, David Parker.
Against the background of intensifying international competition in the field of lunar missions, the agreement underlines the will and ambition of PTScientists to position itself as a globally leading European provider of lunar surface transport services for private and institutional customers, with the support of ArianeGroup as the European space transport provider towards the lunar orbit.
“We are very honoured by the trust ArianeGroup has placed in us,” said Robert Boehme, CEO and founder of PTScientists. “For PTScientists, this is an important milestone in the development of our young company. Together, we will create a 100% European offering to provide cost-effective access to the Moon.” added Boehme.
PTScientists will provide the autonomous landing and navigation module ALINA, a spacecraft with a payload capacity of up to 300kg, while ArianeGroup will contribute its new high-performance launch vehicle Ariane 64 and its many years of expertise in the field of propulsion systems.
“The Moon is a key goal for ArianeGroup and with Ariane 64 Europe has the means to get there. The European launcher has all the capabilities necessary for Moon missions and can offer space transport services to lunar orbit,” said ArianeGroup CEO André Hubert Roussel. “This first contract with a European start-up is an excellent example of win–win cooperation. It demonstrates European industry’s ability to reinvent itself and create a real space team for Europe through agile, disruptive partnerships. This is a perfect alliance between a long-standing European player in the global space sector and a representative of what New Space does best. This joint project is ambitious and holds great promise for the entire space community. With this partnership of specialist skills, the offer for transporting equipment to the Moon’s surface is now complete.”
“It is ESA’s role to challenge and promote innovation in the European space industry. I, therefore, welcome the cooperation agreed today between PTScientists and ArianeGroup with the aim of providing transportation services to the Moon. Customers worldwide could benefit, including ESA for its proposed space resources mission, part of our proposal for the Space19+ Conference later this year”. said David Parker, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration.
In January 2019, ArianeGroup and PTScientists announced that they were working on a study for the planned In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) mission. In space, ISRU is the practice of collecting, processing, storing and using materials found or produced on other celestial bodies, such as the Moon, to replace materials that would otherwise be brought from Earth.
The ISRU mission focuses on the use of lunar regolith. The ability to extract water and oxygen from regolith is a prerequisite for a sustainable human presence on the Moon. It could also be the basis for the fuel needed for future missions to deeper parts of the solar system.