GUILDFORD, UK (Surrey Satellite PR) — Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to lead a Phase A/B1 Study under ESA’s Moonlight initiative that will shape the service provision and infrastructure to provide sustainable commercial Lunar data-relay services for communication and navigation around the Moon.
The Moonlight Phase A/B1 Study will define the service infrastructure and clearly lay out the development path for a constellation of Lunar communication and navigation satellites. The Study will characterise the complete end to end system, including the Lunar Space Segment, the Moon Surface Segment, the Lunar User Segment and the Earth Ground Segment.
A constellation of interconnected Lunar orbiters will enable surface missions operating on the far side of the Moon, without direct to Earth line of sight, to keep constant contact with Earth. It will also provide Lunar navigation signals to support critical mission phases such as precision landing of scientific equipment and the operation of rovers. ESA is going to the Moon together with its international partners including NASA and there are also many other international, institutional and commercial teams planning one-off missions or a permanent lunar presence. Acting as a catalyst for Lunar exploration, a shared communications and navigation service infrastructure would reduce the ticket price of Lunar exploration and also reduce the design complexity of individual missions, potentially making them lighter and freeing up space for additional payloads.