Space

NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) To Work on New Space Mission

California: The European Space Agency and NASA signed new agreements to work together on a lunar and Earth Science mission. However, agency officials mentioned that they are yet to discuss substantial cooperation on Mars exploration and the Artemis program.

ESA and NASA announced two novel cooperative agreements after organizing a meeting with the ESA Council in the Netherlands.

The first agreement is referred to as a memorandum of understanding regarding a commercial lunar communication spacecraft named Lunar Pathfinder. ESA is an anchor client of the spacecraft while it is currently being developed by Surrey Satellite Technology, Ltd. It is expected to be ready either in early 2025 or late 2024 for launch programs. NASA is likely to conduct the launch of Lunar Pathfinder and help in gaining access to communication services through its Commercial Lunar Payload Services platform from the new spacecraft. NASA and ESA are also projected to partner up on a navigation experiment by utilizing the spacecraft.

The other agreement is known as the Framework Agreement for a Strategic Partnership in Earth System Science. It is expected to highlight cooperation between both the companies on vital topics that consist of exchange of data, as well as continuation of measurements. It would develop upon a special joint statement of intent that these agencies signed earlier.

Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator signed both agreements with Director General Josef Aschbacher, his ESA counterpart during the ESA Council meeting recently. The organizations mentioned that for the first time, a NASA administrator attended a meeting of the council.

Nelson and Aschbacher spoke more regarding the cooperation between both agencies at a media briefing after the council meeting ended. They talked about various roles that NASA could play to help ESA respond to the influence from sanctions gained from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It also includes the ExoMars rover mission. It was expected to launch in September 2021, but was postponed after ESA declined cooperation with Roscosmos.

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Aschbacher said that ESA ‘s relationship with NASA has intensified since the 24th of February. The hand that was reached out by NASA im space to ESA was very much appreciated and very welcomed.

He further stated that ESA may look for new engines from NASA for the ExoMars lander. The organization also requires new radioisotope heating units to launch the mission and to keep the rover warm at night. ESA is still scrutinizing various options to continue the ExoMars mission.

Nelson declared that discussions regarding the ExoMars mission is still under consideration. NASA wants to help ESA under the current circumstances. There is also no specific timetable for choosing ESA astronauts for the Artemis mission. However, an ESA astronaut will be included on the landing a few moments after Artemis 3, which is scheduled for 2025.

Pam Melroy, NASA Deputy Administrator stated that an ESA astronaut would be assigned to Artemis 4. It is a unique mission that is currently being planned. Hr plan is to not land on the moon, but to deploy Japanese and European components for the lunar Gateway.

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