Europe is planning to send a manned mission to the moon this decade according to the director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), Josef Aschbacher.
Reiterating earlier statements in an interview with DPA published on Sunday, September 18, Aschbacher said that the agency was committed to seeing a European astronaut on the moon.
He said that he believes the economic potential of the moon will only become apparent in the next decade saying: “At the moment, we are only beginning to use the Moon sustainably for our projects.”
Saying that he personally believes going to the moon will be worth it, he admitted that the economic potential was as yet unclear. This he said was largely down to costs and the availability of funds to undertake the required exploration and exploitation.
Aschbacher said that it was not possible to anticipate what member states will set budget-wise given current events, and nor could he confirm what the roadmap for the next three years will be. That he said will hopefully become clearer after the member states meet at the agency’s headquarters in Paris in November.
Highlighting successes, such as the first flight of the ‘Vega-C’ rocket, he said: “Last year was not easy for ESA, as Ariane 6 has not yet launched and the European service module for the Artemis mission has not yet headed to the Moon.”
He also made reference to the first space summit in which the European Union and ESA took joint decisions as an indication of the growing success of the agency.
Aschbacher is concerned, however, that current events have brought about more uncertainties, especially with Russia’s announcements over its continued involvement in the International Space Station (ISS). That will bring to an end cooperation between the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and ESA.
He is heartened by the news that NASA intends to send a manned mission to the moon as part of its Artemis lunar program, saying that as Europe is also planning to send a manned mission, that the two could maintain a close working relationship.
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