Moon Might Get Its Own Satellite-Based Communication and Navigation Services

ESA looking to create network of satellites around the Moon 6 photos
Photo: ESA
ESA planning satellites around the Moon
Humanity is going back to the Moon this decade, and this time it will go there with a clear purpose in mind. It's far greater than the one of its previous adventure trips: humans are making their first steps toward the colonization of another celestial body. And such an endeavor comes with a whole set of challenges in tow.
Work on the future of the new Moon exploration program, spearheaded by the American Artemis, is progressing on multiple fronts. Some are working on the rocket and spaceship that will get astronauts safely to the Moon and back, others are designing the upcoming lunar orbital station, and many others are trying to wrap their heads around the surface habitats that will be needed, plus all the other systems humans will rely on to survive.

One crazy idea comes from Europe, where the local space agency announced the start of the so-called Moonlight Initiative. That would be an effort to bring several companies together to create a constellation of telecommunications and navigation satellites spinning around the Moon, thus creating a system separated from that of Earth.

Having such a network in place over there comes with serious advantages. The first one would be that spaceships going to the Moon could be spared the use of onboard comms systems, thus freeing up space for other instruments or cargo.

Then, Earth would no longer be hindered by line of sight communication with the crews and hardware on the Moon. Having local satellites would mean the signal could be relayed in such a way as to allow missions on the far side of the Moon or remote operation of rovers and other pieces of hardware on the ground.

ESA said it would fund two consortia of companies to come up with the definitions needed for the project. The agency is also currently analyzing upcoming lunar missions to see if it can use them for the Moonlight Initiative.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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