Italian space company Telespazio has announced that it will lead a consortium funded by the European Space Agency to oversee the development of a new lunar communications and navigation network, which is hoped to serve as a permanent program to support all future lunar missions.
It is hoped that the consortium will undertake research for the development of a Lunar Communications and Navigation Satellite (LCNS) system, which would decrease the cost of future lunar missions by reducing the burden on providers to develop new communications procedures and systems for each new mission.
Luigi Pasquali, chief executive of Telespazio and coordinator of Leonardo’s space activities, outlined that the consortium will benefit space SMEs across Europe.
“In the year of its 60th anniversary, Telespazio is proud to be leading a project that is so strategically relevant to the future of European and world space exploration, working with large, small and medium-sized businesses and academic centres. Communication and positioning services will be essential for the sustainable presence of men and women on the moon and will be able to guarantee beneficial effects on life on Earth,” Pasquali said.
Satellite provider Inmarsat has confirmed that it would join the consortium. Inmarsat recently entered into an agreement with the Australian Defence Force for the continued use of Inmarsat's satellites by Defence. The agreement is valued at $221 million.
Yasrine Ibnyahya, senior director, advanced concepts and technologies at Inmarsat, welcomed the opportunity for the company to extend their capabilities to include lunar missions.
“Providing communication and navigation capabilities around the Moon is a major challenge, both technically and commercially,” Ibnyahya said.
“But I strongly believe that the expertise and assets from Inmarsat and our partners can solve this challenge in the most efficient and cost effective way. Communications and navigation are both core capabilities of Inmarsat’s Earth operations in orbit and on the ground, so it is only natural that we expand our reach and leverage our know-how beyond our planet to the moon.
“This lunar project is only the first step to unlock future opportunities. It can become the hub to facilitate human space exploration, further technology developments and perhaps access to new resources.”
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