Airbus, Air Liquide, and ispace Europe have announced their collaboration to form EURO2MOON, a non-profit platform established to explore and develop lunar resources.
The European Space Resources Agency (ESRIC) is also reportedly set to join the group, in a move that will make it the platform’s first non-founding member.
As part of the new venture, expertise will be sourced to accelerate the lunar resource industry, and provide greater understanding of its potential. Among the aspects to be investigated are the use of these natural resources in both scientific and commercial applications, and technologies for long –duration transport.
Sights have been set on harnessing the moon’s resources since water ice was discovered by the Clementine spacecraft in 1994 but, finding sustainable exploration methods has remained a challenge.
“The Moon will present enormous opportunities over the coming decades both scientifically and economically,” said Andreas Hammer, head of space exploration at Airbus. “By uniting our efforts in Europe, we can harness our skills and expertise to bring maximum benefits for everyone on Earth.”
The association is to have its headquarters in Luxembourg, and has said it will welcome any additional partners, provided they are Europe-based or a member state of the European Space Agency.
Airbus is already in collaboration with ispace, being a leading investor in the company and its lunar rover, which is anticipated to launch its first mission in the latter half of 2022. Designed in Japan, the rover is undergoing the final stages of assembly in Europe, before being prepared for launch from the US.
“ispace’s technology is nothing short of revolutionary, designed to transform an extensive range of industries – from energy and construction to resource procurement – with substantial impacts on sustainability, and more,” said Yuichiro Hikosaka, Airbus Ventures principal, in a press release on the subject. “We are ‘over the moon’ to be joining ispace on this important journey, a pathfinder for our own portfolio’s deep space developments.”
The rover technology is hoped to one day be a cornerstone of extracting and harnessing lunar resources, with AI and data collection functions already established to help gather information on the moon’s terrain, and the resources within it.