Video: ESA Looks Ahead to Lunar Exploration

Video Caption: This 8-minute film gives an overview of the past, present, and future of Moon exploration, from the Lunar cataclysm to ESA’s vision of what Lunar exploration could be.

  • I realize this is getting big again due to the Ars Technica story: http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/01/sorry-nasa-europe-says-its-going-to-the-moon-instead-of-mars/
    But this video came out over a year ago. Is it FINALLY just now sinking in that EVERYONE but NASA is talking about the Moon? Heck, this even came out before Johann “Moon Village” Worner became ESA Director. If NASA thinks they are going to have an international coalition to pay for the Mars trip, I think they will be mighty shocked when they end up landing on a gray world, rather than a red one.

  • windbourne

    No.
    The others have never been there. NASA has, and to have NASA focus solely on the moon is most waste of money, just like the GD SLS.

    Instead, NASA will help private space get to the Moon and will no doubt put crew on-board with them. And for now, NASA plans to go alone to Mars, but I think that once SpaceX is out with their plans, things will change. In fact, I am guessing that SpaceX’s new launcher will be used first to go to the moon, just so that SpaceX can get money.

  • ThomasLMatula

    The key problem is that NASA has failed over the last 40 years to get the funding needed for a direct Flags and Footsteps mission to Mars. And that is not likely to change in the future as their is no national imperative to go there other than that no one has gone there.

    So if NASA keeps its focus on Mars it may well see itself left behind and clinging to an aging ISS while the rest of the world goes forward in space. And that would indeed be sad.

  • windbourne

    I think that NASA’s plan is to turn ISS over to private space. Is it not? And if private space is building out and going to the moon, do you not think that other nations will want to go and will need to train?
    ISS and private space stations will make it possible for a number of nations to train ppl to go to space and then be on the moon/mars.

    As it was, ISS enabled ESA, Canada, and JSA to learn how to work in space.

  • Hug Doug

    Current end-of-mission plan for the ISS is to deorbit it so it burns up over an area of empty ocean, most likely by using a Progress that is loaded with only fuel. This will probably happen in 2025, or, if all the ISS member nations agree the ISS is still useful out to 2028, in 2029. The Russians are already planning to remove some of their more recently added modules for use in another space station, and the US may do the same. However, by 2028 the solar arrays will have degraded to the point where they are probably not putting out enough power for full operations, and the oldest ISS modules will have been in orbit for over 30 years, and past their planned lifespans.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Private industry could never afford the $3 billion NASA spends on the ISS every year. Privatization is a non-starter for it. So either NASA continues to pay the bills on it, or it gets dropped into the Pacific. But NASA will never let go of it while it is still functioning which is why it has effectively trapped them in LEO.

    Other nations would value private space stations as a place for training, which is why Bigelow Aerospace claims to have a number of foreign nations lined up as customers. But until there is private way to reach orbit BA is just in a holding pattern.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, that is the current plan. But it really depends on the ISS itself. If it keeps working it will stay in orbit. If a major system fails, or degrades, it will be dropped in the Pacific. But it is really dependent on the hardware and so any such plans need to be taken with a grain of salt.

    As for Russian removing some if its hardware for a new station, that assumes they will have the money to build one. Given their economy that is unlikely.

  • Hug Doug

    I know the solar arrays have been degraded less than expected, thanks to the low level of solar activity in the recent solar maximum. However, the stresses of vibrations on the structure of the ISS itself from dockings, orbital boosting, etc. still add to the wear and tear on the station. I think it’s reasonable to hope that the ISS will be extended to 2028, but I personally doubt it will be any longer than that. Hopefully we’ve moved on to bigger and better things by then.

  • windbourne

    Out of curiosity, how is the backbone itself holding up?
    Do you know if it will be possible to keep that part?
    It just seems like that could be useful for tying together systems.

  • windbourne

    Yes, but that has nothing to do with NASA turning more over to private space.

  • windbourne

    I doubt that private space would need to spend 3B on it. Much of that is due to the massive ground crew that NASA maintains.

    But, has not NASA been the one suggesting that Private space needs to take over the ISS? They have a private company now arranging for the science missions. Private space is supposed to handle cargo/human launches. I think that NASA’s goal is to turn over the vast majority of this to private space.

  • Hug Doug

    You mean the truss structure? As far as I know, it’s fine, though there have been some issues with vibration. Removing it from the ISS would be partly easy, partly very hard: it’s only physically connected to the station with four struts, the down side is that there is a lot of other stuff strung along it (data and power cables, coolant lines, etc) that go to the ISS as well. Disconnecting it from the ISS would be problemmatic, because it has no independent maneuvering system. Also that would remove from the ISS its main power and cooling systems.

    Another problem: it is massive – over 100,000 kg, not counting the equipment that is stored on it and installed on it. Moving it anywhere else would be difficult.

  • Hug Doug

    Yes it does. No private space company is going to want a 30-year-old space station that is falling apart and has failing solar panels.

  • Hug Doug

    When they talk about working with “private space” they mean “we’ll rent racks on a Bigelo space station,” not “we’re going to give Bigelow the ISS”

  • ThomasLMatula

    Unlike the Bigelow Aerospace BA330 the ISS is designed to be supported by a massive ground crew, as well as its on board crew. 85% of the astronaut’s time is spent just keeping it functioning. That is just how NASA does things. This is the opposite of the BA330 where commercial astronauts will be free to spend 100% of their time on their experiments as the BA crew operate it.

    So like the Space Shuttle, there won’t be any labor savings if a private firm takes over it. The only way it will be “privatized” is like the Space Shuttle was with United Space Alliance (USA) with a single contractor running it. That is not privatization.

    No, the only real future for the ISS is at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The only question is when and that is dependent on the systems on the ISS. Hopefully it will hang together long enough to for NASA to get some benefits from its spending on CCP as an alternative to the Soyuz.

  • Vladislaw

    and has funding increased over the last year to fund more lunar space hardware/programs?

  • Vladislaw

    Until I see budgets that reflect the aspirations that are talked about …