Today’s technology could easily get us back to the Moon, but it is still expensive to develop the vehicles and take everything needed to support life with us.
ESA wants our exploration to be sustainable and based on partnerships – not only with international space agencies but also with business. A commercial approach may just be the ticket – literally and figuratively – to making it happen.
Rather than develop complete missions from scratch – a long and costly process – ESA wants to buy rides on commercial landers to deliver our precious research equipment safely. Once there, we are ready to pay the ‘roaming charges’ to talk to our hardware.
To be truly sustainable, we must make use of resources on other planets and planetary bodies.
In addition to transportation and communication, ESA is looking to invest in the development and pay for the use of technology that can turn raw materials into oxygen and water, critical resources for sustaining future human operations in deep space.
Why the emphasis on sustainability? If been there, done that were the sole definition of exploration, then setting our sights only on more remote parts of our Solar System would make sense. While we learned a lot about the Moon from Apollo, we just scratched the surface of the vast expanse of our Universe.
By testing the market for transport services to the Moon, ESA aims to push the limits of technology and create new models of space business.