A lunar lander study that could lead to a 2011 start for a development programme is being considered by the European Space Agency as a proposal for its 2008 ministerial conference.
The lander work would be part of a wider post-2008 three-year system level design study examining an affordable space station, possibly with international collaboration. ESA has to consider developing specific technologies such as environmental control and life support systems and robotic elements for wider exploration missions anyway.
ESA is working with Russia's Federal Space Agency on a 15-month preparatory project for a four- or six-crew spacecraft called the Crew Space Transportation System and this could have a circumlunar flight capability. If the 2008 ministerial meeting gives the green light to a further development stage for CSTS then the lander, if approved, could one day operate in tandem with the new manned spacecraft.
Above: Flight's concept for a ESA-Russian Crew Space Transportation System Moonship with lunar lander
The proposed three-year study to examine a space station, a lander and other space systems is part of a wider architecture that started in the second quarter of this year. It is looking at Moon surface systems, transport and in-space infrastructure such as Earth-Moon communications.
NASA's Constellation programme Lunar Lander project office is hosting an industry day on 13 December at the Gilruth Recreational Center, adjacent to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. It will discuss its technical philosophy, the project's general background, the lander's design analysis cycle-1 results and a pending broad agency announcement solicitation.