Sunday, June 07, 2009
From here (und auf deutsch hier). Germany is aiming for a robotic lander to the Moon by 2016 (2018 at the latest) and with regular landings by so-called "space trucks" beginning two years after that. The landers would use sensors to land completely under their own control. Step one in this project is a report that has been commissioned that will be due by the start of 2010.
Seven years is not all that long as far as these missions go, but it'll be interesting to see how space exploration is perceived in the next few years considering that we're on the verge of discovering planets much like our own. Their discovery might give an added impetus to the idea of becoming a spacefaring race, or the focus could also move towards technologies that directly aid being able to one day reach these planets, thus new forms of propulsion, communication and observation (=new telescopes). Then again, when you consider that an agency like NASA receives an amount less than 1% of the federal budget every year (the military has a budget some 35 times greater), there's quite a bit of money potentially available if space development is given a higher priority than what it has now (and that's just from public spending).
In any case, good to see Germany making these plans. In the meantime here's something from Deutsche Welle to set the mood.