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Space travel: Esa participates in the new US lunar program

Last updated on March 9, 2021

Esa and Nasa have agreed that the Europeans will supply components for the Artemis program. It is unclear whether they will also fly to the moon .

Artist’s impression of the space station Gateway: View like on the ISS (Image: Esa)

Together to the moon: The European Space Agency (Esa) will participate in the new US lunar program Artemis. Esa will supply components for the program. But European astronauts are also supposed to fly to the moon.

Esa boss Jan Wörner has reached an agreement with Jim Bridenstine, head of the US space agency National Aeronautics And Space Administration (NASA). After that, European companies will supply parts for the future space station Gateway . This station will be a stopover for expeditions to the moon and other missions in the solar system. Japan also wants to participate.

Europe provides the view of the moon

Systems for communication and refueling are to be manufactured in Europe, as well as a window comparable to the Cupola in the International Space Station (ISS). Esa also supplies two service modules for the Orion spacecraft . These are assembled at Airbus in Bremen .

The Esa will not only deliver material for the station. The crew should also come from Europe. The Esa announcement does not say whether European astronauts will continue to fly to the moon.

The declaration of intent is an important step for Europe, said Wörner : “It confirms that we are not only going to the moon in terms of equipment and technology, but also with our people.” European companies supplied key components for crew accommodation and telecommunications, among other things. “In addition, European astronauts will fly to the gateway to live and work in deep space for the first time.”

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The US government decided last year that astronauts would fly to the moon in 2024 . Nasa originally planned a return to the moon in 2028.