ESA seeks lunar business ideas13th Feb 2023
The European Space Agency (ESA) is giving companies an opportunity to present lunar business ideas for the habitation of the Moon, such as restaurants, transport, and entertainment. The agency is looking for proposals that would benefit from ESA’s future Moonlight lunar communications and navigation services, and successful applicants could bag up to €200,000 for the development of their concept.
Before the Moonlight mission is well underway, ESA is hoping this opportunity will help the agency garner a sense of who its customers will be, and whether the needs of Earth users will be met.
ESA’s Moonlight mission
With over 200 missions set to launch to the Moon by 2031, navigation and telecommunications are crucial to lunar exploration. Moonlight is an ESA program that is set to establish communication and navigation services on the Moon through a constellation of satellites, and in November 2022, the mission received financial backing from the agency’s member states. ESA hopes the whole-of mission will “reduce design complexity… and make each individual mission more cost-efficient”, instead of companies and organizations coordinating their own comms independently.
Lunar business proposals
While live Moon exploration has been at a standstill since 1972, the coming years will see a surge of launch missions that will focus on developing a human presence on the lunar surface. ESA expects the focus will initially be on establishing a presence on the Moon before commercializing lunar data will commence, and hopes businesses will put forward ideas in these areas:
- Water, hydrogen and oxygen
- Construction and manufacturing
- Transport and logistics
- Food and waste management
- Entertainment and education
- Smart tech
Proposals will ideally focus on monitoring and preserving the health of inhabitants, providing education and entertainment, developing roads and infrastructure, and building places for humans to live in shelter from the harsh lunar environment.
ESA said that the selected ideas for lunar busines will be offered ‘Enabling Studies’ for the development of the concepts. The studies will include the development and maturation of the business case, the assessment of potential customers, proof of concept tests, and the preparation of a roadmap for the implementation and commercial rollout of the service.