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ESA-NASA Memorandum for European presence in lunar orbit

on 29 October 2020

ESA Director General Jan Wörner and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to take Europe to the Moon. The historic agreement will see ESA Member States contribute a number of essential elements to the first human outpost in lunar orbit, known as the Gateway.

It confirms ESA’s commitment to delivering at least two European Service Modules that provide electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen to NASA’s Orion spacecraft – with more to come. ESA will also receive three flight opportunities for European astronauts to travel to and work on the Gateway.

The Gateway will enable sustainable exploration around – and on – the Moon, while enabling research and demonstrating the technologies and processes necessary to conduct a future mission to Mars. ESA’s contribution to this international endeavour under the MoU includes building the main habitat for astronauts when they visit the Gateway, known as I-Hab.

A second contribution called ESPRIT, will supply enhanced communications, refuelling capability and a window, similar to the European-built Cupola observatory on the International Space Station.

Though the MoU was signed remotely because of COVID-19 restrictions, ESA Director General Jan Wörner says ESA’s involvement with NASA’s Artemis programme has been many years in the making.

“Throughout 20 years of continuous human presence on the International Space Station, we have seen an unparalleled level of cooperation between nations. Sustainable space exploration requires coordinated, international efforts and Europe has proven itself a strong and reliable partner,” he explains.

You can read more about the memorandum at this link.

Image credit: ESA–P. Willekens