Luxembourg, 8 October 2020. – The European Space Agency (ESA) will highlight its wide-ranging space exploration activities with a virtual tour to ESA sites across Europe, the agency said on Thursday.
The virtual tour to “sites where Europe’s exploration of our Solar System for the 2020s is beginning” is a live event on 14 October for this year’s International Astronautical Congress (IAC) and will “showcase the hardware and the people that are taking Europe to the Moon and Mars and back.”
The event will be hosted by ESA Director General Jan Wörner with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine joining the panel to discuss European contributions to, and ambitions for, human and robotic exploration, detailing ESA’s three destinations – International Space Station, Moon and Mars, ESA said.
The tour first visits the ‘Mars Yard’ of Airbus Defence and Space in the UK where Mars rovers are built; it will then move to Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy, where the Gateway modules that will house astronauts as they orbit the Moon are developed. Surrey Satellite Technology Limited in the UK is the next station, introducing the Lunar Pathfinder satellite which is to offer telecommunications around the Moon in a commercial partnership with ESA. The tour then returns back to Italy, this time to Milan, where Leonardo designs and develops robots to explore the Moon and Mars, the agency said.
“ESA Member States showed a strong commitment to the European exploration programme at Space19+ in Seville with a 30% increase in annual investment allowing ESA to fulfil its strategy of exploring our Solar System with humans and robots,” ESA said. “The commitment has allowed ESA to issue many contracts to start designing and building the next-generation hardware that will allow us to explore farther and return new knowledge. The live tour and discussion will showcase ESA’s exploration strategy for the next decade and kicks off the work done by the young professionals working on the projects.”
The tour and the panel can be watched on ESA’s social media platforms and the IAC website on Wednesday, 14 October 2020, from 16:30 until 17:10 CEST.