Paris, France – September 22, 2022 – Today at the 73rd International Astronautical Congress in Paris, Astrobotic and Lunar Logistics Services (LLS) announced they have been competitively selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to fly an innovative landing sensor camera, called LandCam-X, to the Moon in 2024 on Astrobotic’s Griffin Mission One (GM1). This will be the first ever commercial delivery to the Moon contracted by ESA.
ESA’s Smart Landing Sensor
Innovative technologies are a must to open the dawning new era of lunar exploration, with more sustainable and global access to the lunar surface as a focus. ESA has been developing a landing camera called LandCam-X: similar to a camera on a car used for smart parking but at much higher speeds. LandCam-X, developed by a Belgian company, will take pictures during landing that are suitable for image processing algorithms improving precision and safety. They will be used on the ground to test and refine European autonomous navigation systems, with the goal to embark them on future lunar surface missions. Those capabilities are strategic for Europe’s planetary exploration goals and have synergies with other applications on Earth.
This is the 1st ever commercial delivery to the Moon procured by ESA
To test LandCam-X in real conditions, ESA decided in 2021 to fly the camera on a commercial mission leveraging the worldwide emergence of commercial delivery services to the Moon. In early 2022, ESA selected Lunar Logistics Services, a new space start-up based in France, and Astrobotic, a worldwide leader in lunar logistics and space robotics, after a competitive tender to embark LandCam-X on Astrobotic’s second mission to the Moon planned for 2024. “We are excited to work with LLS and their partner Astrobotic and to use their lunar services for the LandCam-X technology payload; the flight data they will provide will be key to advance new navigation techniques in Europe, and to turn them into products ready for flight,” stated Bérengère Houdou, responsible of the activity at ESA. “LandCam-X is part of ESA’s wider-ranging lunar exploration campaign that includes science, technology and services which will expand Europe’s economy to the Earth’s eighth continent, the Moon,” said David Parker, ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration.
“Lunar Logistics Services is delighted and proud to be selected by ESA for the LandCam-X flight to the Moon. This is a major milestone and achievement for the company,” said Philippe Watillon, LLS Founder and President. “I also believe this project is a massive breakthrough for the European space sector with the first ever delivery of an ESA payload on the Moon through a service contract. This will pave the way for the commercialization of space exploration in Europe.”
Astrobotic’s historic Griffin Mission One will deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the South Pole of the Moon in 2024. Upon landing, VIPER will map the presence of water ice on the Moon. “Astrobotic is humbled to be selected by ESA for its first-ever commercial payload delivery contract to the Moon. This is the fourth space agency to choose Astrobotic’s lunar delivery service, and another milestone toward our goal of making the Moon accessible to the world,” said Astrobotic CEO, John Thornton.