Thales Alenia Space partners with Telespazio in the consortium selected by the European Space Agency to study Lunar Communication and Navigation Services
Rome, 20 May 2021 - Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), is a part of the international consortium led by Telespazio, a joint venture between Leonardo (67%) and Thales (33%), selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop an advanced feasibility study for telecommunications and navigation to support lunar exploration.
The study is part of the Lunar Communications and Navigation Services (LCNS) project within ESA's Moonlight initiative, which aims to create a financially sustainable infrastructure to provide lunar communications and navigation services.
The study will define the architecture and service delivery model for the future development of a complete (end-to-end) system, using existing terrestrial infrastructures and building space assets, such as dedicated satellites, or elements on the lunar surface capable of providing services to the different platforms either arriving on the Moon, orbiting the Moon or landing on its surface, such as rovers, landers or lunar bases, thus identifying key elements for future missions.
Together with Telespazio, Thales Alenia Space will be responsible for the definition and design of the entire system, as well as for the design of the space segment (elements orbiting around the Moon) and the lunar segment (elements on the surface of the Moon). The synergy established with Telespazio will ensure the optimisation of the system.
Thales Alenia Space is the perfect partner for such an ambitious project. The company leverages both the expertise developed in the production of the Galileo satellites since the Programme's inception, as well as its experience gained in the development of ESPRIT, the communications and refuelling module that, together with I-HAB (International Habitat), the module that will host the astronauts, represents one of the key elements for the future Lunar Orbital Platform - Gateway (LOP-G).
The technologies inherited from the navigation systems and communication elements under development, related to both the optical range and the radiofrequency, enable Thales Alenia Space to minimise development risks by guaranteeing the demanding requirements associated with this mission.
Thales Alenia Space will be supported by small and medium-sized companies, such as Argotec, specialised in micro-satellites, and Quascom, specialised in navigation systems, that could enable the deployment of small constellations to demonstrate the functionality of the proposed solutions before large-scale development or to increase the capacity of the communication and navigation system in case of specific requirements.
Within this initiative, Altec ( JV Thales Alenia Space 63,75% and Italian Space Agency 36,25%) plays a role in the ground infrastructure, supporting Telespazio in the design and production of the ground segment, exploiting the capabilities gained from the constant support provided to ISS and ExoMars Rover Module.
Communication and positioning systems will play a key role in supporting exploration missions to our satellite, for example by ensuring constant link between astronauts and robotic systems and control centres, as well as the correct and precise positioning of autonomous driving and human-controlled exploration vehicles on the surface, and the navigation during the cruise and landing phases of spacecraft travelling between Earth and the Moon. Furthermore, these services will support the emergence and development of the future 'Lunar Economy', both in terms of space tourism and, for example, the possibility of using on-site lunar mineral resources, making it easier and cheaper to explore the other planets in the solar system while limiting the impact of mining on our planet.
ABOUT THALES ALENIA SPACE
Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 1.85 billion euros in 2020 and has around 7,700 employees in nine countries.
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