WASHINGTON — The European Space Agency has awarded a contract to a group that includes Europe’s largest launch services provider and a former Google Lunar X Prize competitor to study a concept for a mission to mine lunar regolith.
ArianeGroup announced Jan. 21 that it has received a one-year contract from ESA to study a lunar lander mission proposal that would launch by 2025. The purpose of the mission would be to demonstrate the ability to mine lunar regolith and extract resources, such as oxygen, from it.
The proposed mission would be launched on an Ariane 64, a version of the Ariane 6 with four strap-on boosters. PTScientists, a German company that started as a team in the now-defunct Google Lunar X Prize competition for privately developed lunar landers, is responsible for the spacecraft. Belgian company Space Applications Services will provide ground control and communications services.
The study contract has a value of several hundred thousand euros, ArianeGroup spokesman Julien Watelet said Jan. 22. The study is intended to study the feasibility of such a mission, including whether it could be done using a more commercial approach.
“The [Phase] A/B1 study consists of concept and technology development, preliminary design and ...