MOONDIVE, l’European Space Agency prepares for returning to the Moon

The International Space Station (ISS) is approaching its successful end of mission. European Space Agency and its international partners are considering new mission targets for the future of human space exploration in the post-ISS era. Highest ranked on the list of potential targets are a return to the Moon, Near-Earth Objects or asteroids, as a step stone to the ultimate target on the surface of Mars.

The MOONDIVE consortium successfully completed the ESA GSP study “Concept Development of EVA Operations in EAC Neutral Buoyancy Facility for Extra-terrestrial Surface Explorations”. The study was started in 2015 by a consortium of Space Application Services, Space Diving Training & Services, Liquifer
Systems Group and Wyle under the lead of COMEX SA.

The MOONDIVE study analyzed exploration objectives of various past space missions and extrapolated those to potential future mission scenarios on the lunar surface and asteroids. The identified tasks were archived into a Surface Operations Task Catalogue (SOTC). Based on these generic tasks simulation operations were developed for ESA’s Neutral Buoyancy Facility (NBF) in Cologne. The NBF is located at the European Astronaut Centre where the European Astronaut Corps trains for their space missions. NBF training of astronauts includes pre-familiarization training for EVA on the International Space Station. Within the MOONDIVE study enhancements to the NBF are proposed that would allow lunar surface EVA simulations in simulated reduced gravity (1/6th G like on the Moon). The consortium of MOONDIVE came up with a catalogue of items that can be built to make such operations possible in the future. The items include terrain features, infrastructure (such as pressurized rover, ascenders or landers), spacesuits, tools, communications and robotics. The implementation of MOONDIVE at NBF in Cologne will make the European Astronaut Centre a unique location in the world that can provide such underwater space simulations also in synergy with LUNA DOME testbed for surface operations that is currently under construction.

For further details on the study or images and videos please contact:

ESA Technical Officer:

Mr. Hervé Stevenin
Head of Neutral Buoyancy Facility Operations
& Spacewalk Training
Space Training Team (HRE-OT), ISS Operations
& Astronaut Group,
Directorate of Human & Robotic Exploration Programs,
European Astronaut Centre
Linder Höhe, D-51147 Cologne, Germany
Mail: herve.stevenin@esa.int
Phone ++49 2203 60 01 377

MOONDIVE Project Coordinator:

Mr. Peter Weiss, PhD
Head of Space Department
COMEX S.A.
36 Bd de l’Océan, CS-80143
F-13275 Marseille cedex 9, France
Mail : p.weiss@comex.fr
Phone : ++33 4 91 29 75 36

 

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