SSTL, Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed a collaboration agreement for Commercial Lunar Mission Support Services. This innovative commercial partnership aims to develop a European lunar telecommunications and navigation infrastructure to support lunar scientific and economic development, both for Europe and the rest of the world. The co-operation encompasses both the space and ground segments, and the commercial and regulatory support to catalyse the lunar economy and provide affordable access to lunar, and ultimately deep space, orbits.
Ride Share and Phone Home missions
The first offering from the partnership is a low cost "Ride Share and Phone Home" service which will enable new, and regular, mission opportunities to the Moon, the next frontier for commerce and sustainable solar system exploration and exploitation.
The service opens opportunities for the deployment of low cost missions into lunar orbit, to enable science, prospecting, capability building, education and technology demonstration applications.
The Ride Share and Phone Home service will offer a ride to lunar orbit for payloads and nanosats onboard an SSTL lunar mothership spacecraft, together with communications data relay and navigation services via the mothership to the GES Deep Space ground station. The £1m Lunar Mission Ticket for a flight opportunity in the 2022 will provide a complete end-to-end mission service which supports the integration, transportation and deployment of payloads, the provision of data relay and navigation services via the dedicated ESA ESTRACK deep space network, and a simple web-based interface for payload operations and return of mission data.
Lunar landers, rovers and surface impactors
Private and agency Lunar landers, rovers and surface impactors will also be able to sign up to use the lunar communications and navigation services provided by the mothership either for primary mission operations, to provide additional capacity, or as a back-up service. For prospecting, exploring, and ultimately utilising the far side of the Moon, a communications relay service is a mission enabler, providing the vital bridge between Earth and the lunar surface for lunar landers and rovers. Exploration of the far side of the Moon, particularly the South Pole Aitkin Basin, is a key area for future robotic and human exploration due to its chemical and mineral composition. The stable elliptical orbit of the mothership will allow for long duration visibility of the Southern Lunar Hemisphere each day, with maximum opportunities for the transmission and reception of data between Earth and the lunar surface.
Call for Lunar Missions and Payloads
A call for lunar missions and payloads is now open and we invite you to discuss how we can meet your mission needs. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Download our Lunar Communications Pathfinder Flyer