May 26, 2021
● The study aims to design the satellite architecture and communication and navigation services to be used in future moon exploration missions.
● Led by Telespazio, the international consortium, also includes satellite operators, manufacturers, SMEs, universities and research centres.
MADRID, 26 May 2021. HISPASAT, the Spanish satellite telecommunications operator of the Grupo Red Eléctrica, has joined an international consortium selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) and led by Telespazio, a joint venture between Leonardo (67%) and Thales (33%), whose purpose will be to study the design of a space infrastructure to provide lunar communication and navigation services (LCNS) by satellite, similar to those used on Earth.
The study forms part of the ESA Moonlight initiative, which will define the economically viable satellite architecture and models to provide services on diverse platforms that orbit the Moon, as well as to the settlements on lunar bases and vehicles that astronauts use (rovers, landing modules, and more). Furthermore, in its final stage the study expects to select an operator to manage the LCNS, as well as to supply services. Lastly, the consortium will also analyse if it is possible for the LCNS system to work together with LunaNet, the infrastructure that NASA is currently developing to support the missions of its Artemis programme.
In addition to HISPASAT, the consortium includes the satellite operator Inmarsat; manufacturers such as Thales Alenia Space, OHB and MDA; SMEs such as Nanoracks, Argotec and ALTEC; and universities and research centres such as SEE Lab SDA Bocconi and the Polytechnic University of Milan.
For Antonio Abad, HISPASAT’s Chief Technical Officer, “satellite communications play a definitive role to guarantee the success of future lunar exploration missions. Therefore, it is essential for the European space sector to work jointly in public-private collaboration partnerships when defining the services that will be required on these missions and to rely on the experience of a satellite operator like HISPASAT to ensure that this design is as efficient and robust as possible”.
It is estimated that there will be around 80 public and private initiatives dedicated to lunar exploration over the next 10 years. This consortium will study how to provide a response to the ESA’s need to define a satellite infrastructure that satisfies the requirements of space agencies and private companies which will give rise to a true “lunar economy” in the not-so-distant future. To do so, the study includes creating different standards and service models for lunar missions based on the analysis of the market in upcoming years and the future needs of users.
HISPASAT is the leading satellite operator in Spain and a driver for innovation in the aerospace sector. The company is the main communication link between Europe and America as a broadband and connectivity service provider in America, Europe and North Africa through its companies in Spain and Latin America, where its Brazilian subsidiary, HISPAMAR, is located. HISPASAT is the leader in broadcasting and distributing multimedia content in Spanish and Portuguese, including broadcasts from major digital Direct to Home (DTH) and High Definition Television (HDTV) platforms. These activities make it one of the top companies in the world by revenue in its sector and it forms part of the Red Eléctrica Group.