ESA explains Moonlight Initiative in new video

November 17, 2022  - By
Screenshot: ESA

Screenshot: ESA

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a new video describing the Moonlight Initiative, part of NASA’s Artemis program.

ESA is a key partner in Artemis, which aims to return people to the Moon by the end of decade. Dozens of other international public and private missions are setting their sights on the lunar surface in the coming years.

However, to achieve a permanent and sustainable presence on the Moon, reliable and autonomous lunar communications and navigation services are required. ESA is working with industrial partners on the Moonlight Initiative, to become the first off-planet commercial telecoms and satellite navigation provider.

After launch, three or four satellites will be carried into lunar orbit by a space tug, and deployed one by one to form a constellation of lunar satellites. The number and specification of these satellites are being defined.

The constellation’s orbits are optimized to give coverage to the lunar south pole, where sustained sunlight and polar ice make it the focus of upcoming missions.

Moonlight will provide data capacities sufficient to serve these planned and future missions, with a navigation service that enables accurate real-time positioning for all lunar missions.

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About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.