As is known, even theTHAT (European Space Agency), participates together with the NASA, in the Japanese style JAXA and the Canadian CSA, the construction of the Space Station Lunar Gateway, destined to orbit on the Luna, therefore Italy is an active part of this important project, in the production of its modules, and of future bases on the lunar soil. Gateway will therefore be an important stage, not only as a stopover for future missions on Mars, but also as a support for future human colonies on our natural satellite. There ABOUT (Italian Space Agency) is part of this effort, in addition to the national industrial one, in the context of agreements of the project Artemis, destined to resume manned missions on Lunar soil, which ended with the program Apollo in the 70s.
The role of the ASI and the government
According to the vice president of Thales Alenia Space’s Exploration and Science Domain, Walter Cugno, «thanks to the support of the Italian government and ASI, which have just signed the Artemis Accord, we will also be protagonists with NASA in the development of the first surface infrastructures. We are beginning to lay the foundations for our participation in this sense because it is not enough to go to the Moon: the goal is to go there permanently and exploit the resources in situ and prepare future missions to Mars ».
As the astronaut and astrophysicist explained to us in a previous interview Umberto Guidoni, the challenges posed by participation in space programs have not simply the aim of hoisting flags on certain objectives in space, but also that of advancing innovation and the economy of the countries that adhere to them. This is the “serendipity” of scientific research, or rather the possibility through this kind of enterprise to always discover the most unexpected things, which will prove useful in everyday life. It is also and above all in the space research. The NASA website has long maintained a page dedicated to the important discoveries, which have entered industry and daily use, deriving from space missions.
The aforementioned Thales Alenia Space will have the task of producing theInternational habitat (I-Hab) of the Gateway station, that is the module intended to house the astronauts. It will also take part in setting up the communications system from Earth to the Moon, called Espirit (European System Providing Refueling, Infrastructure and Telecommunications); In fact, Thales will produce the HLCS (Halo Lunar Communication System), which is expected to be launched in 2024. Finally, we will also have a role in the production of the ERM (Esprit Refueling Module), the refueling system of the Space Station.
All this according to Cugno «means continuing along the history built with the construction of the pressurized modules of the International Space Station». These goals are – and will be – possible, thanks to the opening by space agencies – starting with NASA – to private companies. We recall the pioneering and still relevant role of Space X e Blue Origin, which have shown how important it will be to open up Space beyond the monopolies of individual government agencies, making space tourism even possible in the future, at least within low earth orbit.
Cover photo: NASA | Lunar Gateway configuration concept.