ESA Astronaut Simulates Polar Moon Landing

A European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut used a sophisticated flight simulator to practice a simulated polar landing as part of a mission to develop a ‘human-in-the-loop’ lunar landing system.

The ESA-led ‘Human-in-the-Loop Flight Vehicle Engineering’ technology research looked into the increased performance benefit of human oversight of lunar landings in order to improve the flight system’s resilience and reliability.

Roberto Vittori, a three-time astronaut, boarded a special motion simulator at the German Aerospace Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich, as part of the experiment.

Vittori was able to observe how a spacecraft performs during critical flight stages from the capsule and then take action to regulate it.

In one test scenario, Vittori was able to switch to full manual control and steer the module manually as the module descended to the lunar surface.

“The simulator is an incredible machine, probably one of the best I have experienced. This experiment today is for me showing that Europe can play a key role in the future of exploration,” Vittori said, adding that “It was a beautiful run.”

ESA’s ‘Human-in-the-Loop Flight Vehicle Engineering for Exploration Missions’ project is part of the agency’s work on the international Lunar Gateway space station, which aims to visit and eventually settle the south pole of the moon.


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