The European Space Agency is proposing in this decade to build a constellation of communications and GPS-type satellites, dubbed Moonlight, to orbit the Moon.
ESA is asking two industrial consortia in Europe to define what an integrated sat-nav and telecoms system at the Moon would look like.
It’ll include a constellation of at least three, but probably more, positioning-and-relay satellites to give global coverage, and will likely include some surface beacons, too, to augment the accuracy of the navigation signals.
“The target we have at the moment is that the constellation would be able to allow for an accuracy of 100m and probably better. We think we are able to get to 30m in the first instance,” explained Paul Verhoef, the director of ESA’s navigation department.
The two consortiums are the UK’s Surrey Satellite and Italy’s Telespazio.
It also appears the ESA is proposing making this system available to all lunar exploration missions, whether they be part of the U.S.’s Artemis program or China’s lunar plans. If so, it is commercially smart, as they will have plenty of customers to buy their services.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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