Connecting the Earth to the Moon: Moon Satellites

From time immemorial, humans have been fascinated by the moon. The gentle light shows love, the strong embrace produces waves and is sometimes responsible for insanity.

The moon was once a domain of gods; Many legends depict the moon gods. But humans are explorers of new worlds, and the Earth’s Satellite received its first visitors five decades ago.

As international organizations around the world are now planning to revisit the moon, ESA is detailed on how best to facilitate this exploration.


The lunar exploration is based on extensive knowledge of ESAT throughout the ESA. With the emergence of a new lunar economy, it will create new opportunities for robots, environments, and transportation. Lunar missions Moon satellites share similar communication and navigation needs that can be met using constellations. At the initiative of the Agency’s “Moonlight” ESA, ESA is studying the necessary technical solutions with industry along with supply models for lunar telecommunication and navigation services. Credit-ESA

Bold wishes

The moon is our closest neighbor in space. Its attractive proximity makes it a natural place to explore how people can take the next steps Mars And more.

Co-operation around the world has already given rise to a bold desire to explore the lunar poles, with dozens of different commercial and institutional missions already planned for the decade.

NASAArtemis Program It plans to return people to the moon in 2024 and, in collaboration with ESA and other partners, plans to close Gateway with a spacecraft for astronauts. Gateway is home to European astronauts as well as all over the world. It will have a built-in communication module.

Overview of lunar missions

Overview of missions to the moon. This infographic shows the interest of commercial and institutional organizations in launching spacecraft on the moon. Credit-ESA

ESA is working on plans for Europe’s largest logistics lander to provide a wide range of unmanned missions to Artemis astronauts, from supply races, to unique robot science and technology demonstration missions and lunar return missions. He thinks of the next regular launches in the last part of this decade until the 2030s.

Earlier, a lunar pacifier designed to provide adequate communications for lunar missions was to be launched, probably by the end of 2022. In collaboration with ESA, the spacecraft will be an emergency for polar and long-distance missions. , Without a direct line of earth, or they would have to buy their own communication spacecraft.

Many other initiatives have come from major space agencies in China, India, Japan, and Russia, as well as from private individuals around the world.

Heraclius is approaching the landing site

Feelings of artist Heraclius approaching the landing of the moon. Over the next 10 years, a European landlord is planned. Credit: ESA / ATG Medialab

Project Moonlight

To be successful, each of these big plans requires reliable browsing and telecommunications capabilities. Building these individually would not be expensive, complicated, or efficient.

Each project will be more cost-effective if it is given to a combination of space companies that can place a satellite constellation around the moon.

ESA Moonlight Logo

Having a single system for lunar telecommunications and navigation can reduce design complexity, freeing missions to focus on their core functions.

Because missions can be relied upon for certain telecommunications and browsing services, they will be easier. This provides space for additional scientific equipment or other cargo.

Accurate and reliable telecommunication and navigation services allow them to land wherever they want. Radio astronomers were able to construct observers along the moon’s surface. Rovers can travel fast on the moon. It can even enable the connection of rovers and other devices from the earth.

For the past three years, ESA has been working with industry partners to explore the lunar market. As part of the ENA Muniteit initiative, it is currently developing in-depth analysis of the planned lunar missions and further developing technical and business solutions for lunar telecommunications and exploration services.

Turning on the possibilities

The lunar orbit is neatly aligned with the earth, which means that it orbits the planet once and for all. As a result, it always has the same appearance on Earth.

A set of lunar satellites allows the constellations to be in constant contact with the earth, even when they are on the moon. This constellation may allow lunar exploration in areas where it is not directly visible, for example, it supports the exact location of scientific instruments, no matter how far away they are.

The basis of the diagnostic moon

Artist’s sense of what a moon base looks like. Credit: ESA – P. Caryl

The missions to the Moon’s polar regions allow them to remain connected to the Earth and any other lunar base.

Finally, lowering ticket prices to lunar research will empower larger ISA member states to launch their own national lunar mission. Even with a relatively low budget, emerging astronauts can send a scientific cube mission to the moon, inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

The lunar satellites provided communications and navigation signals for all of these missions, providing adequate positioning services and a constant connection to Earth’s orbit and scientists on Earth.

Exploring solutions

Over the past few years, ESA has conducted a number of feasibility studies, both internally and in the industry, to understand the lunar market, consumer and trade metrics and to explore possible technical mechanisms for such infrastructure.

The first concepts involved multiple satellites in various orbits around the moon, providing reliable, real-time communications and navigation services.

Navigation services can support mission-critical tasks such as lunar orbit, lunar landing, real-time rotor rotation and lunar eclipse.

The data capacity between the Earth and the Moon is gradually increasing to hundreds of megabytes per second for user transmission services, allowing for comparable lunar missions at home and television and film streaming.

Predicts a sharp increase in demand for information after 2028.

Next steps

ESA has invited companies that are ready to study and design lunar constellations to express their interest in the moon. The Agency has begun negotiations with interested parties and is currently developing draft concepts outlining its history and experience, as well as presenting its business and service model, partnership ideas and draft concepts. This is the first part of a two-step bidding process. Second, the Agency invites selected bidders to submit their final bids.

Up to two parallel fully funded contracts are planned with ESA. These terms are expected to be issued in early 2021.

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