Star Trek Guide

Airbus selected for European Space Agency's Moon lander study

AIRBUS has been selected by the European Space Agency as one of the two primes for the definition phase of the European Large Logistic Lander (EL3).

In this study, Airbus will develop the concept of a large multi-role logistic lander able to transport up to 1.7 tons of cargo to any location on the lunar surface.

EL3 flights are set to begin in the late 2020s, with a cadence of missions over the following decade and more.

Europe is already contributing to the Global Exploration Roadmap agreed by 14 space agencies around the world, in which Airbus is also playing its part.

European participation includes international missions to Mars, substantial elements for crewed space stations – the International Space Station and the Lunar Gateway – and the Orion European Service Module (ESM) which will power Artemis, the next human mission to the lunar surface.

With EL3, the European Space Agency and its member states will make a further substantial European contribution to the international effort to establish sustainable exploration of the Moon.

EL3 will be designed as a fully independent European lunar surface logistics mission capability, including European launch capability with Ariane 6.

The European Space Agency anticipates flying three to five EL3 missions over a 10 year time frame.

Andreas Hammer, head of space exploration at Airbus, said: “We are extremely thrilled to be starting the definition phase of EL3, Europe’s large Moon lander.

"Last year in Seville, Europe’s space ministers agreed that the European Space Agency should start preparing a vehicle to fly scientific and logistics cargo to the Moon.

"Airbus is 100 per cent behind this ambition, as it will enable Europe to play a critical role in the next phase of human exploration of the Moon, and will further strengthen the European Space Agency's status as an invaluable partner in the international space community.”