The European Space Agency on Tuesday released its latest roadmap for space exploration as it pushes deeper and farther beyond Earth’s orbit. The roadmap, dubbed Terrae Novae 2030+, identifies a 2030 timeline for the first European astronaut to land on the Moon and further push to Mars.
ESA is also working on the European Large Logistic Lander designed to support human exploration of the Moon; and the Earth Return Orbiter, the spacecraft that will return from Mars with invaluable scientific samples.
The space agency said that the mission of the Terrae Novae exploration programme is to lead Europe’s human journey into the Solar System using robots as precursors and scouts, and to return the benefits of exploration back to society.
“Terrae Novae is not only literally about exploring new worlds, but by describing the limitless opportunities for discovery, economic growth and inspiration it also expresses our ambitions for Europe’s future innovators, scientists and explorers,” ESA’s director of Human and Robotic Exploration, David Parker said in a statement.
He added that they hope that everyone can use this roadmap to make our three-part vision a reality: to continue a strong presence working in low-Earth orbit, to send the first European astronauts to explore the Moon throughout the 2030s, and to prepare Europe’s role in the first historic human voyage to Mars.
The roadmap charts a new course for Europe’s venture in not just Earth’s orbit but also on the Moon, Mars and beyond. The mission aims to ensure a European presence on the lunar world by providing autonomous Moon landing capabilities for European-led missions. It also calls for a long-term robotic exploration of Mars, that will pave the way for the horizon goal to have the first European on Mars by the end of the next decade.
“This vision provides Europe in the 2030s the required breadth of advanced capabilities and programme magnitude to play a key role on the global space exploration scene, commensurate with its political and economic weight in the world, still significantly lower than the main actors, namely US and China,” the rodmap document read.
ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher said that more than any other space activity, space exploration offers a unique blend of curiosity and opportunity the curiosity to venture into the unknown in search of new horizons and new knowledge; and the opportunity to return to society the many benefits of making the journey.