Paris - ArianeGroup, a joint venture of Airbus and Safran and a leading supplier of space exploration programs of the European Space Agency (ESA), has announced that it would build a rocket to travel to the moon to help ESA to carry the necessary materials for a permanent base on the Moon.
Once again, ESA is entering the race for the commercial exploitation of the Solar System. ESA's objective is to travel to the Moon by 2025 and the agency will rely on the Ariane 6-4, the four-rocket version of the Ariane 6-2 rocket.
With a payload capacity of up to 8.5 metric tons, Ariane 64 is capable to carry the entire equipment needed for a long-term lunar mission. ESA's goal is to send necessary equipment to the Moon to mine regolith from the Moon surface.
Regolith is a thick dust formation covering the entire Moon. It is made up of a mix of clays, glass fragments, minerals and chemical compounds like iron oxide from which oxygen, water, and fuel could be extracted. ESA plans to obtain these vital materials from the regolith for future space missions from the Moon.
The Agency said that the mission would not include manned flights to the Moon. Only robotic equipment and the constructional materials will be sent at the first stage. ESA thinks that space mining is crucial for building permanent lunar bases and maintaining them.
For this mission, the European Space Agency and ArianeGroup will have the support of several European companies, such as the German PTScientists, which will build the lunar module, and the Belgian Space Applications Services, which will provide other equipment for the mission such as communication systems.