European Space Agency and NASA partner for lunar science



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Authorities from ESA and NASA signed the lunar scientific cooperation agreement in Washington, DC. Photography courtesy of ESA.

ESA Director of Human Exploration and Robotics David Parker and Associate Administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen signed a Statement of Intent to coordinate joint scientific research on the Moon and identify opportunities for cooperation in the lunar mission .

Signed at National Space Academy Week in Washington DC, the statement highlights a common interest in accessing the Moon, fueled by scientific discovery and support for private sector capabilities and missionary services on the lunar surface and in the vicinity of the Moon.

"We are excited to bring European expertise to the table," said David, "and work collaboratively to pave the way for a sustainable presence on the Moon, where nations and the private sector work together to deliver benefits to all people on Earth . .

Soon to the moon

The Moon once again captured the attention of space agencies as a "file" of cosmic history and a cornerstone of planetary science. Water ice and other possible resources on the Moon offer the possibility of the Moon becoming a "stepping-stone" to the wider Solar System. US Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA on March 26, 2019 to accelerate the human return to the moon over the next five years.

ESA's proposal to its Member States for the next period of its European Exploration Program includes continuing its involvement in projects in orbit around the Earth as well as around and on the Moon and Mars. This will enable scientific research, the development of key technologies and international cooperation – inspiring missions that expand humanity's presence beyond Earth.

As they advance to the Moon, ESA and NASA are committed to sustainable lunar exploration, made possible by cooperation – not just with space agencies, but also with the private sector. New commercial capabilities offer new opportunities to explore – and expand economic activity in deep space. Both agencies will continue to explore scientific collaboration on payloads and future missions to the Moon.

Team building is nothing new for ESA and NASA, with the two agencies working together on the International Space Station, robotic missions, and more recently on the Orion spacecraft, the first spacecraft capable of delivering a crew to the moon from the age of 50 .

ESA is providing the European Orion Service Module in an arrangement that comes from the partnership of the International Space Station. Based on ESA's proven Automated Transfer Vehicles to provide the International Space Station, the module will provide everything to keep astronauts alive, including oxygen, water, thermal control, electricity and propulsion.

ESA looks forward to cooperation and collaboration to probe the mysteries of the Moon and use the insights found as a stepping stone to the future of humanity in deep space.

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