By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can find out more by following this link Accept & Close ›
Space Blog

Shooting for the Moon

SSTL have unveiled plans that could make a UK spacecraft to the Moon a reality. Changing the economics of space, SSTL have made proposals for two missions at a fifth the cost typical of such projects. In cooperation with the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) have been quietly preparing for a low-cost lunar mission for over a decade. This included projects for the European Space Agency (ESA) and a hardware contribution to the Chandrayaan-1 mission, India's lunar spacecraft due for launch this year. Recent high-profile missions such as GIOVE-A, built by SSTL and launched December last year, and participation in ESA’s Aurora Mars exploration programme have also helped develop affordable technologies in-house that are required for a challenging lunar mission. Returning to the Moon has been proposed by a large number of international planetary scientists in order to answer several key scientific questions. It is a commonly held view that the Moon is just a lump of rock and that it has been fully explored. The truth is that very little is known about our closest neighbour. The UK itself has an active lunar science community keen to support such a (robotic) lunar exploration mission, however, for several years these interests have been eclipsed by the drive to Mars. Recently there is a renewed global interest in returning to the Moon, stimulated by several missions planned by the USA (NASA Robotic Lunar Exploration Program), by China (Chang'E lunar satellite) and by India (Chandrayaan lunar satellite).
Technologies developed for Moon exploration can be adapted for further interplanetary exploration "“ for example, visits to Mars. This is reflected by ESA’s Aurora programme, which has recently broadened its focus away from just Mars to include the Moon - realising that the risk associated with overcoming the major technical challenges that are faced by Mars missions could reduced by effectively testing the technology with relatively inexpensive and timely lunar missions. ESA is considering a robotic mission to the Moon, but is experiencing pressure on the necessary funding to make it happen. Since June 2006, SSTL and the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) have been working on a study into the feasibility of a low cost UK-led lunar mission funded by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC). The two ideas proposed as a result of the study were named "MoonLITE" (Moon Lightweight Interior and Telecom Experiment) and "MoonRaker". The first, MoonLITE, would propel four golf-bag-sized darts called penetrators into the lunar surface from an lunar orbiting satellite. The penetrators would be sent into different regions of the lunar
surface not previously visited by the earlier Apollo and Russian missions "“ including, for the first time, the far side of the Moon. The penetrators would carry a suite of scientific instruments, such as seismometers used to measure "Moonquakes", to determine the internal composition of the Moon. The second, MoonRaker, would gently land a craft on the South Pole region of the Moon, relaying information back to the Earth on whether or not there is water or traces of oxygen and hydrogen trapped in permanently shaded areas. The confirmation of these would open the possibility of manufacturing resources needed to sustain human presence on the Moon without having to transport it all from Earth.





16 January 20070 Comments1 Comment

Back to Blog

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.
 Security code

About This Blog

SSTL's lowdown on cost effective space technology, small satellites, space science and interplanetary exploration.

Post Archive

December 2017(1)
October 2017(1)
May 2017(1)
January 2017(2)
October 2016(3)
September 2016(1)
July 2016(1)
June 2016(1)
April 2016(1)
March 2016(4)
February 2016(3)
December 2015(2)
November 2015(3)
October 2015(3)
July 2015(1)
May 2015(0)
May 2015(1)
April 2015(1)
March 2015(2)
February 2015(2)
January 2015(2)
December 2014(1)
November 2014(2)
October 2014(2)
September 2014(1)
July 2014(2)
June 2014(3)
May 2014(1)
April 2014(1)
March 2014(1)
February 2014(2)
January 2014(2)
November 2013(3)
October 2013(2)
September 2013(2)
July 2013(3)
June 2013(2)
May 2013(2)
April 2013(4)
March 2013(1)
February 2013(3)
January 2013(5)
December 2012(6)
November 2012(5)
October 2012(4)
September 2012(4)
August 2012(1)
July 2012(6)
June 2012(1)
May 2012(2)
April 2012(5)
March 2012(3)
February 2012(3)
January 2012(1)
December 2011(1)
November 2011(4)
October 2011(5)
September 2011(4)
August 2011(3)
July 2011(4)
June 2011(6)
May 2011(3)
April 2011(1)
March 2011(3)
February 2011(2)
January 2011(3)
December 2010(2)
November 2010(1)
October 2010(2)
September 2010(4)
August 2010(4)
July 2010(2)
June 2010(2)
May 2010(2)
April 2010(4)
March 2010(4)
February 2010(4)
January 2010(3)
December 2009(2)
November 2009(5)
October 2009(2)
September 2009(6)
August 2009(4)
July 2009(3)
June 2009(1)
May 2009(2)
March 2009(2)
February 2009(5)
January 2009(2)
December 2008(3)
November 2008(6)
October 2008(5)
September 2008(3)
August 2008(5)
June 2008(1)
May 2008(3)
April 2008(5)
March 2008(1)
February 2008(1)
January 2008(3)
December 2007(3)
November 2007(6)
October 2007(3)
September 2007(3)
August 2007(1)
July 2007(1)
June 2007(2)
May 2007(2)
April 2007(1)
January 2007(3)
December 2006(1)
September 2006(1)
May 2006(2)
January 2006(1)
December 2005(7)

Show/Hide All

If you like Space Blog, why not subscribe by RSS by clicking the subscribe button, or to recieve updates by email click the subscribe by email button.

*Comments Policy
SSTL reserves the right not to publish comments if they are deemed inappropriate.