The European Space Agency (ESA) is this week holding its international exploration workshop to identify areas and methods for co-operation between national agencies, two weeks after NASA held its own lunar strategy conference. The ESA workshop is being held in conjunction with the Italian Space Agency, near Spineto, west Italy.



Participation by European agencies in the International Space Station (ISS) is already governed by an international treaty. Lunar exploration could involve a treaty, but ESA wants to explore all the options, including case-by-case inter-agency agreements on specific issues.

Areas that would need programmatic and technical co-operation for a truly global exploration effort include common Earth-to-Moon communication and navigation systems. “This discussion will continue beyond the workshop. It will take a long time – we are not talking a couple of months, it will take longer than two years,” says ESA’s human spaceflight, exploration and microgravity research directorate’s head of policy and plans Manuel Valls.

He adds that national technology export controls could cause problems for co-operation. As well as ESA’s ISS partners, representatives from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) will attend. CNSA personnel also attended the NASA workshop.

The NASA conference, held in Washington, attracted 12 countries and followed the agency’s publication of a request for information for an exploration strategy. At the conference the US agency’s deputy administrator Shana Dale suggested a radio telescope operating from the far side of the Moon as one potential international project.

Source: Flight International