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ESA and industry study constellation to connect the Moon

Paris, 21 May 2021. – Europe launches Moonlight, a bold proposal to put in place a commercially viable satellite constellation around the Moon.

The European Space Agency (ESA) signed contracts with two consortia spearheaded by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited and Telespazio to develop a Moon constellation and provide telecommunications and navigation services for all kind of Moon missions and the emerging “lunar economy”.

“Such a lasting lunar link will enable sustainable space exploration”, ESA said. “Using a shared telecommunications and navigation service would reduce the design complexity of future individual missions and make them lighter, freeing space for more scientific instruments or other cargo, making each individual mission more cost-efficient.”

The size of the investment and the design of the fleet were not yet specified and will be defined by the two competing consortia; they kicked off the work with ESA on the feasibility studies and the Moonlight design and want to make a recommendation to the ESA Member States next year .

“Connectivity is the backbone for the exploration of space, for our safety systems, for a sustainable use of our resources and for our social and economic progress”, said Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA. “Our aim is to transform R&D investments into successful commercial products; by enabling private involvement, we boost the competitiveness of the European industry.”

To address the needs of potential institutional and commercial Moonlight users, ESA will host the Lunar Communications and Navigation Services User Engagement Workshop on 1st June.

“We welcome space agencies, academia and research institutions, private entities working on lunar missions and lunar enthusiasts from anywhere on Earth”, Viau said.

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