NASA wants to send humans back to the moon, but is open to international participation, which may allow non-Americans to walk on the moon for the first time ever, space agency leaders said Monday gathered in Washington.
"There is a lot of room on the moon, and we need all our international partners to go to the moon," US Space Agency chief Jim Bridenstine told a news conference on Monday. day of the 70th International Astronautical Congress, major annual meeting of the space world. "If we agree on the contributions of all countries," he continued, "I do not see why our international partners would not go with us to the moon."
Only 12 Americans walked on the Moon in history, during the Apollo missions (1969-1972). The United States is developing a spacecraft (Orion) and a mini-space station (Gateway) that will orbit the Moon, with a theoretical date of first lunar mission inhabited in 2024, the mission Artemis 3.
"2024 will be purely American"
This step will be American, with the exception of a technical contribution from Europe, the "service module" (electricity, oxygen, water ...) of Orion. Only then, when the Gateway is expanded, can non-Americans possibly travel. "We absolutely want to have Europeans on the moon," said Jan Wörner, head of the European Space Agency (ESA). "2024 will be purely American," he told AFP. For Europeans, "I do not know, maybe 2027 or 2028". There are seven astronauts in the latest "promotion" of ESA (2009). Everyone will have two flights in space, says Jan Wörner, and some have not even made their first trip aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Could it be for example the French Thomas Pesquet, which has only one space stay to his credit? "I can not answer," says Wörner, noting that ESA usually only has one seat per year.