Lunar exploration relies on the extensive expertise that is on hand across ESA. As a new lunar economy emerges, it will create new opportunities involving robots, habitats, and transportation. Missions to the Moon share similar communication and navigation needs that could be satisfied using a constellation of lunar satellites.
Under the agency’s “Moonlight” initiative, ESA is exploring with industry the necessary technical solutions along with delivery models for the provision of lunar telecommunication and navigation services.
Efforts to explore the Moon have substantially grown recently, partly because it is a convenient place to develop the technologies and capabilities needed for people to explore deep space.
As a result, a new lunar economy is emerging, which presents opportunities involving robots, habitat and transportation, as well as the provision of communications and navigation services.
Although space agencies remain the driving force behind space exploration, private companies are entering the market as well as public-private partnerships.
For the past three years ESA has been working along with industrial partners to explore the lunar market. It has identified the demand for a communication and navigation service to support the ongoing and future lunar missions.
All the proposed missions to the Moon share similar communications and navigation needs that could be satisfied by a commercial service provider.
The lunar satellites would provide communication and navigation signals for all these missions, ensuring adequate positioning services and constant connectivity for ground control and for scientists on Earth.
ESA is conducting deeper analysis of the lunar market and further elaborate possible solutions, both technical and business-related, to provide communications and navigation services for the Moon, as part of an initiative called Moonlight.