Commercial Lunar Mission Support Services
As the return of human missions to the Lunar surface, “Forward to the Moon,” continues to accelerate, focusing international effort and resources, Europe now has the prime opportunity to position themselves as the “hub” for off-planet communication and navigation services. Space mission utility and ambition are increasing, yet for many, space exploration remains a challenge and budgets are under pressure. For small missions, in particular, the key barriers are still affordable access to lunar and deep space orbits and communications back to Earth.
The Commercial Lunar Mission Support Services (CLMSS) is a collaboration agreement between SSTL, Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) and the European Space Agency (ESA). This innovative commercial partnership aims to develop a European lunar communications 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.
A Simpler, Cost Effective Missions Enabler
Lunar Pathfinder (2022) will be a mission enabler for polar and far-side missions, which, without direct line of sight of the Earth, would otherwise have to procure their own relay spacecraft. Lunar Pathfinder will offer orbiter and near-side missions a better availability, improved data-rates and a more cost effective alternative to loaded institutional deep-space ground stations via direct to Earth (DTE) solutions. This will enable science, prospecting, capability building, education and technology demonstration applications to see a greater return of high value data, acting as a multiplier in terms of benefits, while reducing the entry cost to Lunar missions.
Lunar landers, rovers and surface impactors
Commercial and institutional Lunar landers, rovers and surface impactors will be able to sign up to use the lunar communications services provided by Pathfinder from 2022 onwards, and then from the future constellation, either for primary mission operations, to provide additional capacity, or as a back-up service. For prospecting, exploring, and ultimately utilising the far side and poles 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 Pathfinder and the future constellation 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.
Through Life Mission Support Service
Services will offer data relay services, and a simple web-based interface for payload operations and return of mission data. Support will be available from mission concept through to service use, enabling users to integrate with the relay.
Laying the Foundations for the Future
The CLMSS partnership is preparing for the high data future, as the market opens from exploration towards in-situ resource utilisation and prolonged human habitation. Once first mover advantage is established and market demand confirmed, from 2028 the service will evolve to a constellation, offering extended availability, higher capacity and full navigation capabilities.
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