Schwerpunkte

50 Years after the Moon Landing

German Technology for the Next Lunar Mission

22. Juli 2019, 14:58 Uhr   |  Karin Zühlke

German Technology for the Next Lunar Mission
© DLR

German technology was already on board when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon on 21 July 1969 (CET). And for the next lunar mission, technology made in Germany will even play a major role.

"When the Americans fly back to the moon in 2020, we will fly together," says Thomas Jarzombek, German Aerospace Coordinator. "Half of the new Orion spacecraft from the USA comes from Europe and the other half from Bremen, and it flies with technology "made in Germany". It is powered and powered by German technology via the European Service Module (ESM). The ESM drive and supply unit was assembled at Airbus in Bremen. One of these units will also set the US crew on course for the moon in 2024".

In addition, NASA plans to set up a small space station near the moon. Whether and how the European Space Agency ESA will participate in this project will be decided by the responsible European ministers in Seville in November 2019. An independent European robotics mission for the use of lunar resources is also up for discussion at this European Council of Ministers conference. "Perhaps we can then send a German astronaut to the moon later on this basis," explains Jarzombek.

The future US spacecraft Orion, also known as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), is to be launched into space for the first time in 2020. From the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Orion will then be transported to the moon by NASA's new heavy-duty rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS). The unmanned spacecraft will circumnavigate the Earth's satellite several times and then return to Earth. A crew will not be on board until the second moon mission, which is planned between 2021 and 2023. In the long term, Orion will even take astronauts to distant asteroids or Mars.

Orion consists mainly of two parts: the US-American crew module, which is usually also called Orion, and the European Service Module (ESM). The crew module resembles the capsule shape of the Apollo spacecrafts, but is about twice as large as these: Instead of three, it can accommodate up to four astronauts. For short-term missions in low Earth orbit, up to six crew members can even fly on board. The capsule, which weighs around ten tons, also houses the life-support system and the flight control system. At the end of a mission, the capsule enters the Earth's atmosphere again and then lands hanging on a parachute in the Pacific. The crew is rescued there by ships and helicopters.

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