European Space Agency to Build Moon Satellite Network

The European Space Agency (ESA) has unveiled plans on Thursday to build new, satellite-powered telecom and navigation system to lay the groundwork for a permanent human presence on the moon.

The initiative, known as Moonlight, would enable spacecraft and astronauts to identify their location using a precise navigation system and communicate with each other using a constellation of lunar satellites.

Moonlight would also reduce the cost of space exploration by making future spacecraft less complex to design, and lighter, making room for more scientific instruments or other cargo on board.

“A lasting link with the Moon enables sustainable space exploration for all our international partners, including commercial space companies. By using ESA-backed telecommunications and navigation service for the Moon, explorers will be able to navigate smoothly and to relay to Earth all the knowledge gained from these lunar missions,” said Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications of ESA.

More than a dozen European companies, divided into two groups, have signed contracts to participate in the program to build the system. 

UK-based satellite manufacturer Surrey Satellite Technology Limited will spearhead the first group while French spaceflight services company Telespazio will lead the second group.

The ESA announced that the system would be available to all countries with a space program including the US, Russia, China, and India.

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