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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Germany To Push 2019 Moon Lander

DLR's proposed Moonlander with lander and rover. Credit: DLR  concept
A German-led European lunar lander and rover mission could be designed, built, launched and operated for six months on the lunar surface for 500 million euros ($650 million), according to the mission’s presumptive prime contractor, Astrium GmbH, said Oct. 23, 2012, according to Space News.
Under a two-year contract to the European Space Agency (ESA) that ends in mid-November, an Astrium-led six-nation team has concluded Europe could place an 808-kilogram lander/rover package on the surface of the Moon in 2019 (Video animation).
Moonlander would arrive at the lunar south pole and would demonstrate technologies deemed useful for future exploration missions as well as a suite of experiments, yet to be defined, at a region of the Moon that remains poorly understood 40 years after the last of the U.S. Apollo astronauts quit the Moon’s surface, according to the report.
Program officials said the estimated 500-million-euro budget includes some 75 million euros in the cost of launching Moonlander aboard a Europeanized Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Guiana Space Center.  The program makes a significant contribution to positioning Germany as a systems leader for future European moon landing missions. The Germans, however, seek greater European shared risk.

What began as a project 98 percent backed by Germany and 2 percent by Portugal — not an auspicious beginning for an ESA mission — has since broadened to a six-nation effort in which Germany has a 71 percent financial stake. The Germans want other Europeans to buy-down their stake to under 60%.  More from the BBC and Spaceflight Now.

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