Lunar Space Economy The Future Is Now

Leonardo’s cutting-edge technology will aid interplenary explorations



By Muhammad Ali Bandial

Published: Mon 25 Oct 2021, 4:10 PM

Moon exploration is a key theme for space agencies around the world and for private entrepreneurs. The return to the lunar surface is a key factor in the development of an interplanetary generation, that will protect humanity on earth, and in the future could also be called to guide us towards new places to live in outer space.

This is why Italy-headquartered global high-technology company Leonardo with the technical-scientific coordination of SDA Bocconi University, organised a dedicated event in Italy Pavilion during the Expo 2020 Dubai Space Week.

As highlighted by Leonardo’s CEO Alessandro Profumo during the conference titled ‘The lunar space economy. The first step towards an interplanetary generation’: “Our collective ambitions in space also matter to our own planet and its future. Making interplanetary exploration more sustainable by using lunar resources is one aim. But there is a second goal: to improve our quality of life on earth”. Space could, in fact, offer fundamental resources that will be scarce or costly to earth’s environment. “Think about rare-earth elements for electronic devices, for example,” added Profumo. “There are also opportunities to advance science and technology in areas like power generation, energy storage, recycling, and advanced robotics.”

Exploration, mining and recovering technologies and potential solutions for a living habitat on the moon were some of the themes covered at the event by agencies and institutions, academia, industries, and astronauts, who discussed how to create synergies to make the equation ‘2+2=5’ work.

Leonardo can play a fundamental role in such a challenge, with an end-to-end offering for all users’ requirements: from space systems manufacturing, up to the production of a wide range of high-tech instruments, subsystems, sensors, and the management of launch and in-orbit services and satellite services. Leonardo’s space technology applications span from earth observation to the remote sensing of atmospheric phenomena and ecosystems, from planetary exploration to navigation missions, telecommunications, and in-orbit experiments.

The UAE space activities were a great protagonist of the international conference, with contribution from Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut onboard the International Space Station, who spoke on a panel together with Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, and from Sara Al Maeeni, project scientist and communication engineer of the Emirates Lunar Mission. The UAE is rapidly becoming a spacefaring nation. After having reached the Mars orbits with the Hope Probe, the UAE will arrive on an unexplored location of the lunar surface in 2022 with the rover Rashid. The Emirates Lunar Mission is the first of a series of missions intended for developing new technologies that will eventually support missions to the martian surface, and address food, energy and water-security challenges back on earth.

Other speakers at the Leonardo event included: Bill Nelson, administrator at NASA; Josef Aschbacher, director general of ESA; Giorgio Saccoccia, president of ASI; Paolo Glisenti, general commissioner’s office of Italy for Expo 2020 Dubai; researchers from MIT, INAF and Colorado School of Mining; and professionals from mining companies.

How to create a permanent and sustainable human base on the moon?

  

For the great lunar adventure, infrastructure, artificial intelligence, robotics, connectivity, services and operations are needed, all skills that Leonardo Group can provide. Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67 per cent, Leonardo 33 per cent) is contributing to the construction of the Lunar Gateway of the NASA Artemis mission and is building critical systems of Orion, the spacecraft for astronauts.

Leonardo’s robotic systems, equipped with advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence, will provide great support for the creation of a sustainable “Moon village”. Robotic arms and drills will help build structures, dig and extract resources from underground. Leonardo holds a leadership role in space robotics, having already developed the drills for the Rosetta missions, ExoMars 2022, and now Prospect, for the Luna27 mission, and designing robotic arms for the Mars Sample Return programme. Finally, Telespazio (Leonardo 67 per cent, Thales 33 per cent) has been recently selected by ESA for the study of an infrastructure for telecommunications and lunar navigation.

For more information, please visit: https://www.leonardocompany.com/en/media-stories/events/expo-2020-dubai.


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