The European Space Agency (ESA) and the US agency NASA have signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow Europeans to contribute a number of essential elements to launch the first human settlement in lunar orbit, known as Gateway.
Specific, this “historic” agreement, as the THAT, confirms the commitment of the European Space Agency to supply at least two service modules to provide electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen to the Orion spacecraft of the POT, to which others will join in the future.
ESA will also have three flight opportunities for European astronauts to travel to Gateway and work there, reports ESA in a statement.
Gateway will enable sustainable exploration around the Moon and on its surface, and will allow to investigate and demonstrate the technologies and processes necessary to carry out a future mission to Mars.
ESA’s contribution to this international effort under the MOU includes the construction of the main habitat for astronauts when they visit Gateway, known as the I-Hab.
The second contribution, called ESPRIT, it will offer improved communication, refueling capacity and a window similar to the European “Cupola” observatory on the International Space Station.
Both contributions are in line with what was approved by the ESA member states during the Ministerial Council that took place last year in Seville.
“This memorandum of understanding marks a critical point in the trajectory of Europa: confirms that we are moving towards the Moonnot only in terms of equipment and technology, but also with our staff, “says ESA Director General Jan Wörner.
For Wörner, “Europe will play a central role in the new era of space exploration global together with NASA and our partners, offering exemplary and revolutionary architectures to explore the Moon and Mars, and inspiring the next generations. ”
For his part, ESA’s Director of Human and Robotics Exploration, David Parker, highlights that each launch of astronauts to the Moon aboard the new Orion spacecraft will depend on the European service module to obtain energy, propulsion, oxygen and water.
“Europe will make accommodation, telecommunications, refueling and an astonishing view of the Moon available to the crew thanks to ESA’s contributions to Gateway. And what’s more, European astronauts will fly to Gateway to live and work in deep space for the first time. ”
The MOU has been remotely signed by Wörner and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.