The European Space Agency (ESA) recently presented Terrae Novae 2030+. It’s an ambitious – and optimistic – plan for manned space missions to bring Europe’s first astronaut to the Moon in 2030 and to Mars in 2040.
The fundamentals of the program and its roadmap have been made public in a document which, although not very detailed in technical terms, establishes a declaration of intent on the objectives of the agency, which aims to ensure a leading role in manned space exploration both in its immediate and long-term future.
In the decades to come, the lasting human presence in bases established on the Moon and its orbit, as well as the arrival of the first astronauts on Mars, will become tangible realities from which the old continent cannot afford to be spared.
“This long-term roadmap will guide decision-makers on how far to take Europe on its journey of deep space exploration,” said David Parker, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA. “It also expresses our ambitions for future European innovators, scientists and explorers,” he concluded.
However, Europe does not currently have rockets powerful enough to launch missions to the Moon or Mars. The launchers available to ESA only allow access to low Earth orbit and geostationary orbit. Likewise, a manned ship is missing, and in the case of the launcher and the ship, there are no plans on the table for its development.
On the other hand, the cessation of collaboration between ESA and Russia in space exploration due to the invasion of Ukraine has become an additional difficulty to the likelihood of a possible development of these vehicles. alone by ESA.
So, what is the plan to achieve the objectives announced by Terrae Novae 2030+? The question can be answered in one word: NASA.
EVERYTHING GOES THROUGH NASA
To achieve the objectives proposed by Terrae Novae 2030+, ESA has no choice but to work closely with NASA to join forces with Artemisa, the program with which the American agency will return to the Moon, and ensure with it places on board for its astronauts. .
NASA’s new SLS rocket (currently in its final stages of testing) and its Orion spacecraft will prove as vital for one agency as the other in revisiting a human presence on the Moon and, later, carrying the first astronauts on Mars.
Europe plays an important asset which has earned it its role as an undisputed partner of NASA thanks to its significant technological and scientific achievements, giving rise to a long and mutually fruitful collaboration. The Orion spacecraft’s own service module, an essential element of the Artemis program, was developed and manufactured by Europe, as well as countless instruments for all kinds of joint or NASA probes and robotic missions.
Josef Aschbacher, Director General of ESA, addressed the leaders of European countries in order to gather the necessary support to carry out Terrae Novae 2030+: “I invite our politicians to define the level of ambition of the Europe so that ESA, together with all stakeholders, can make this strategic roadmap a reality.
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