Probes for the exploration of the
lunar surface are being developed in the United Kingdom.
Unmanned space vehicles capable of
making a soft landing on the lunar surface are being developed
in Britain. Successful development will also make it possible to
conduct tests of technologies required in future Mars
A new project for moon exploration being developed in Britain,
dubbed “Moon Twins,” involves the creation of two research craft
to land on the poles of the moon. The EADS Astrium Company is
developing the probes for the European Space Agency.
Plans call for the Moon Twins to be launched between 2015 and
2018. Both probes will be launched on the same carrier rocket.
After they enter into orbit around the moon, they will be used
to test technology for the joining of autonomous spacecraft.
Then the probes will descend to the lunar surface to make a
landing. On board each ship will be a seismometer to study the
moon. Scientists hope that the craft will be big enough to hold
other scientific devices as well, according to the BBC. (April,
The United Kingdom plans to
send a rocket to the moon.
Plans call for a British ship to orbit the moon and send down
devices to take samples from the lunar surface. This project is
being examined by a British agency involved with financing space
exploration. One of the project’s authors, Professor Martin
Sweeting, believes that with the great reduction over recent
years in the costs of space exploration, Britain could look into
the possibility of launching a spacecraft of its own to the moon
in 2010. As the craft orbits the moon, it will launch special
devices toward the lunar surface at high speed. These devices
will penetrate as deep as 2 meters to gather soil and mineral
samples. If this lunar research project is successful,
scientists plan to follow up by sending another device to land
on the lunar surface. One of its assignments will be to seek a
suitable location for a lunar base. (The American space agency
NASA plans to build a lunar base before 2020.) Up until now,
Britain’s participation in the study of outer space has been
limited to collaboration with NASA and the European Space Agency.
But now scientists believe Britain can get involved on its own.
“For the first time space exploration has become affordable for
us,” notes Professor Sweeting. “At present, sending a small
spacecraft to the moon costs approximately 500 million euros.
But with development of satellite launching technologies, the
cost can be reduced by at least 100 million euros.”