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ArianeGroup has been awarded two study contracts to facilitate potential Moon missions covering phase A/B1 studies by Airbus Defence and Space in preparation for the next European Space Agency (ESA) Ministerial Council in 2022. An ArianeGroup team from Lampoldshausen, Bremen, and Ottobrunn, Germany will bring its propulsion architect expertise to the Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle (CLTV) and the European Large Logistics Lander (EL3) missions.
After several days in lunar orbit, it will descend to the surface of the Moon using up to five engines. In order to ensure precise landing, all engines will be throttled simultaneously. The landing site chosen is located close to the landing zone of the American Human Landing System (HLS) lander, so as to safely supply astronauts with additional provisions. (NASA has selected three companies to design and develop HLS under the Artemis program.)
EL3 is a European complement to the U.S. Artemis program designed to take humans back to the Moon. ArianeGroup is already involved in the Artemis project, providing propulsion equipment for the European Service Module (ESM) for the Orion spacecraft.
The CLTV Cis-Lunar Transfer Vehicle draws on all the expertise and technology acquired throughout the five European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) missions plus new functions and capabilities. Its main mission is to re-supply the planned Lunar Gateway Station.
With the support of Airbus DS, ESA successfully developed and flew five ATVs, the last of which was launched in 2014 with mission end in 2015. These two projects are of strategic interest for ArianeGroup to maintain a position in propulsion, and to leverage all the expertise from ATV and ESM MPCV to extend its involvement in ESA’s future exploration programs.”
CLTV will offer even greater operational versatility than ATV and provides ArianeGroup with an opportunity to demonstrate its proven competences and innovative new products, beyond traditional propulsion systems, in the lead-up to a completely European spacecraft.
The study phase will last until the 2022 ESA Ministerial Conference. If the proposed concept is approved at the conference, the next phase could start as soon as early 2023 – creating the first step to building the highway to the Moon.