As the era of the International Space Station ends and lunar missions begin, European astronauts from the classes of 2009 and 2022 can all dream of the moon. But not everyone will go. Futura makes some predictions.
Last week, the European Space Agency (ESA) provided it New promotion of astronauts With two new bodies. The Class of 2022, the fourth in its history, includes five career astronauts, 11 reserve astronauts and one disabled astronaut. In less than two years, at the end of their training, these new career astronauts will join the Class of 2009, seven of whom are still active.
They will enter service at the start of an exciting era of human spaceflight The ISS is going through two periods of missions, ending at the end of this decade, and Artemis, which will open for a longer period. », Jean-François Clervoy explained to us during his presentation New astronauts of the ESA.
These new astronauts will work alongside the 2009 astronauts, all of whom have already completed a mission on the International Space Station and two out of four of them. Every astronaut in the Class of 2022 will make at least one flight, or two if possible, as promised by the European Space Agency. Unsurprisingly, their first mission will confine them to low orbit. If not everyone gets to the International Space Station due to lack of time or available space, the orbital complex should be there. Deserted in January 2031ESA will assign them to missions on board Post-ISS private space stations.
While waiting to learn more about the Class of 2020’s mission planning, members of the Class of 2009 are concerned about future lunar missions within the framework of NASA’s Artemis program.
“For the first time in Artemis history, non-Americans will be allowed to stay on the portal and some to walk on the moon.“
As Didier Schmidt reminds us, “ Artemis is an international project with ESA, Canada and Japan that will allow non-Americans to stay at the Gateway for the first time in history. And “Some people walk on the moon.”. But if NASA opened its lunar program to foreign astronauts, ” Not without considering it “.
NASA explained that foreign astronauts would be able to stay at the Gateway, depending on the contribution of partner nations. and ESA means ” Rather good because Europe A key contributor to the gateway NASA has delivered the I-Hab and Esprit modules between 2027 and 2028 “. The I-Hab is a module that includes the International Residential Module and Esprit, a communications system, a refueling module, a workspace for the astronauts and a 360° observatory.
Better to go around the moon. Walking on its surface is great
In this context, the European Space Agency ” It negotiated three slots for its astronauts between 2025 and 2030 “. She also negotiated Two of these three astronaut flights will be participating in the installation of the I-Hab and Esprit modules on Artemis 4 and 5. Both these places should go to a Frenchman and an Italian. Indeed, by preparing these two modules, France and Italy can expect that the two astronauts assigned to these missions will be one of their nationals. For France, that would be Thomas Pesquet. For the Italians, the choice between Lucas Parmitano and Samantha Cristoforetti will be tough. But nothing is certain.
This video shows the many exploration missions ESA is carrying out or planning in our solar system, from the International Space Station to the Moon, along with the European Service Module and Gateway Modules as part of NASA’s Artemis program. Propaganda. © ESA
You should know that in Europe at this time” A strong political will to send a European to the lunar surface by the end of the decade “. The Japanese also aspire to see one of their countrymen on the moon, and want to be the first foreigner to walk on the moon. If their participation in Gateway is the subsystems in the I-HAB module, they are still very determined to provide a compelling rover in the Artemis program. Their bargain is to land a Japanese on the moon », explains Didier Schmidt. Their pressure on the US government was very strong as the launch and first use of this rover was planned for Artemis IV.
As for the European counterparts to convince NASA to land a European astronaut, ESA offers the versatile, autonomous and highly capable lunar lander Argonaut (formerly EL3). The lander, which is not scheduled to enter service until the early 2030s, could be used for logistics of the Artemis missions. The cargo and equipment thus carried would be in exchange for the European on the moon. The Moonlight program could provide ESA lunar communication and navigation services, as well as other services of interest to NASA.
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Unsurprisingly, the crew of two astronauts landing on the moon during Artemis III will be American. It will consist of a man and a woman, one of whom will be colored. On the next mission, Artemis IV, NASA will again land a crew of two astronauts, including an American and the first non-American astronaut, who may be Japanese. From Artemis V, lunar landing crews will consist of four astronauts, including a European astronaut. This work could be carried out between 2032 and 2034.
Will Samantha Cristoforetti be the first European to walk on the moon?
Now, a question torments the member states of the European Space Agency: what is the nationality of the first European to stay on the moon. There is little doubt that ESA will award the slot to one of the countries that contribute the most to the program, to a German, an Italian or a Frenchman. After President Macron’s statement, intense political negotiations are expected. For astronauts, they must accept that political negotiations take precedence over team rotation. So the selection will not be made only on the basis of physical fitness and functional ability. You should know that all ESA astronauts can or will fly around the moon.
So the race is open to see which astronauts of 2009 will make the first three “gateway” missions and walk on the moon. If we dive into a little guessing game to find out which of the serving astronauts will be the first to walk on the moon, we’ll put Italy’s Samantha Cristoforetti at the top of our predictions, followed by Germans Alexander Gerst and Matthias Maurer, and finally Thomas Pesquet.
Delays in the development of the lunar lander provided by SpaceX and the development of future lunar suits make NASA’s agenda difficult to predict. No one expects the Americans to land on the moon before 2028, which suggests that Artemis IV could not happen before the early 2030s. The more time passes, the more likely they will be assigned to a lunar mission!