Is it time to go back to the Moon? The last person to set foot on the lunar surface did so in 1972, almost half a century ago. However, there is now talk of a “New Space Race”, with states and private corporations jostling for the prestige of sending astronauts back to the Moon.

Yet is competition the right approach? The International Space Station demonstrates what can be achieved when we cooperate and work together on space exploration. Jan Wörner, the Director General of the European Space Agency, has set out a vision for a permanent “Moon village”, shared between the nations of the world and acting as a common staging post for further exploration. The Moon village concept is not (yet) an official project of the European Space Agency, but should it be?

Curious to know more about lunar exploration? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Julia asking how Europe can possibly justify funding a moonbase while people are struggling on Earth with high unemployment or economic hardship.

To get a response, we put Julia’s comment to science journalist Sue Nelson, a former BBC science correspondent, co-host of the award-winning Space Boffins podcast, and author of the book Wally Funk’s Race for Space. What would she say to Julia?

Next up, we had a comment come in from Chris wondering what might be some of the benefits of lunar exploration. He suggests, for example, there might be natural resources on the moon that aren’t readily available on Earth.

To get a response, we put Chris’ comment to Anna Rathsman, Director General of the Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA). How would she respond?

Next, Alex asks about Russia’s efforts at establishing a permanent moonbase, and what Western powers think about it. Is the ‘new space race’ taking place in the spirit of friendly competition? Or is this all about geopolitics?

How would space journalist Sue Nelson respond?

Finally, we had a comment from jharveyj, who doesn’t think a manned offworld base is realistic because of the problem of cosmic radiation and the prohibitive cost of transporting materials into space. Is he right?

Here’s what Anna Rathsman had to say:

Sue Nelson is currently trying to get a Lego Ideas set made to pay tribute to the Mercury 13 – the female US pilots who passed astronaut tests in 1960-61 but never got the chance to go into space. The link to register for free and to vote is here.

Should Europe set up a moon base? How could Europe justify the cost of a moonbase? What might be some of the benefits of lunar exploration? Is the new ‘space race’ about geopolitics? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) ADragan


65 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Return to the 80s movement

    Not just a base in the moon ,but take all the moon :D

    • avatar
      István

      a death star maybe?

  2. avatar
    Любомир

    A research station – why not?

  3. avatar
    David

    Why not to invest first in a green transition and in helping the EU members most affected by the COVID outbreak?

    • avatar
      Filip

      Because on the moon, there’s no airpolution. Look how good we are.

  4. avatar
    Victor

    The best way to secure a European presence in space is for the ESA to cooperate with NASA

  5. avatar
    Nikolas

    EU should have its own space agency first of all.

    • avatar
      Andrei

      ESA?

    • avatar
      Nikolas

      ESA’s status is complex. Most of its members are European but it’s not an EU agency… This is because you don’t see any European flag on their arms but their respective national flag.

    • avatar
      António

      ESA

    • avatar
      Oliver

      but..why? Even in the US it’s going to be more centered on private business than NASA

    • avatar
      Oliver

      who cares if they are not using the EU flag?

    • avatar
      Filip

      Ok, you pay for that.

  6. avatar
    Jevgeni

    Yes, we do need – to send all bureaucrats there. But seriously, is that important topic comparing to all other issues Europe has today?

    • avatar
      James

      If we only talked about one issue at a time nothing would ever get done

  7. avatar
    Paul

    That’s a super idea…instead of alternating between Brussels and Strasbourg, the Eurocrats can have a permanent home there all to themselves

  8. avatar
    Dan

    Well I guess it’s up to the leaders of Austria,Sweden,Denmark and the Netherlands,because if this present crisis has taught us anything,it’s that they are the suckers who will be paying for this joke.

  9. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    By investigating ESA’s strategies, goals & missions- one will discover- if & when an ESA moon base is planned.

    Please remember that the EU intended to make ESA an agency of the EU by 2014. This goal has not materialized. I hope it will never happen since it could hamper ESA’s independence, flexibility & future progress falling under EU’s political suzerainty. What more could ESA gain?

    https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Corporate_news/Member_States_Cooperating_States

    Let ESA remain an intergovernmental scientific organization and the EU a supranational political one and cooperate. The EU should accept it can’t be all, want all, and control all- although becoming ESA’s largest single donor.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-11-european-space-agency.html

    https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Exploration/Landing_on_the_Moon_and_returning_home_Heracles

  10. avatar
    Spyros

    First things first.. Have a European army first…
    Border of Europe is under attack.(Cyprus,Greece) …turkey and illegal migration…

    • avatar
      Oliver

      and give the high horse men in brussels an army?

    • avatar
      Spyros

      one way or another, this shall happen

    • avatar
      Filip

      Are you out of your mind? To go fight the Russians? You know where the Eurocrats will live, while we get the Russian bombs on our heads right??? In the Trump Tower. Besides, give Merkel an army??? Ever had a history lesson???

    • avatar
      Oliver

      russia was and still is the biggest threat to europe. If russia would not be a threat, why would EU need an army?

    • avatar
      Oliver

      by the way, what news are you watching?

    • avatar
      Filip

      Look up “Guy Verhofstadt speecht op Maidan in Kiev” on YouTube

    • avatar
      Filip

      Look up “Macron calls for ‘true European army’ to defend against Russia, US, China” on Euractiv

    • avatar
      Filip

      Merkel joins Macron in calling for a ‘real, true European army’… Do you even follow the news?

    • avatar
      Spyros

      cause turkey is.
      Are you watching any news?? EEZ of European members Greece and Cyprus is invaded.
      Also north border of Greece to Turkey is filled by illegal migrates and isis member encourage by turks.
      Only France support greece and cyprus and soon germany and of course rest of E. U members
      Ruasian on the contrary, will be in alliance of E. U against turkey..

    • avatar
      Spyros

      Greece and Cyprus finalising their maritime borders is only a matter of time

    • avatar
      Spyros

      Look up “Turkish threats aimed at Cypriot exclusive economic zone” on the EP website

    • avatar
      Oliver

      you think germany cares about a little island somewhere

    • avatar
      Oliver

      greece is in NATO, take it up with them if turkey attacks, i dont think NATO likes this in fighting.

    • avatar
      Spyros

      Do you even know that in 1974,turkey attacked Cyprus, stole 37% of the country’s land, north oart, send away the greeks and sincr then north part of cyprus(which means European soil) is considered Occupied.

    • avatar
      Oliver

      i do know that, i also know that its a stalemate. Turkey is still a minor threat compered to russia.

    • avatar
      Spyros

      russians?? Are you idiot?? Did i mention fighting the russians??
      Did i say giving merkel an army??
      Are you watching the news or are you still in the 1940s???

  11. avatar
    Natasha

    Should there be a 14 days quarantine period for the moon landers ?

  12. avatar
    Lorenz

    Yes of course, and even further, aim at Mars. Europe has an heritage as explorer or pioneer in its history. EU should continue this way and be the first “nation” to step on Mars. (And Prove to Americans that they’re not the first everywhere.)

  13. avatar
    Tonny

    We should not miss this chance of participating in the exploration of the solar system. It is well worth the investment because it benefits all. More knowledge, better insight, space industry (thus more jobs as well!).

    It is time to go above and beyond, not so much for prestige, but for the greater good of all mankind

  14. avatar
    Willy

    Superbe, we will send the whole EU parlement over there. Good news

  15. avatar
    Peter

    Yes, so that they can sent people like Timmermans there so that he never can come back !

  16. avatar
    Casaluna

    Better start with just European embassies, learning how to be frugal with public money is a better example.

  17. avatar
    Martin

    Yes, right next door to the site the Americans claim to have landed

  18. avatar
    Gerard

    No….Europe needs to concentrate on fixing Europe first.
    A moon base doesn’t house people….or put food on their tables….except for a chosen few.

  19. avatar
    Gaby

    Another pollution race ?? Let us first clean up our polluted planet !

  20. avatar
    Klaus

    On the moon it may be necessary to learn to eat with benches

  21. avatar
    Filip

    Yes, give all our pension and social security money in projects like that! Politicians have the easyest job on the planet. Just give away the peoples money and ask for more when they run out of money.

  22. avatar
    Filip

    Europe should give it’s citizens the chance to vote in, or out.

  23. avatar
    Johan

    How about you start with protecting our borders and enforcing our laws.

  24. avatar
    ARIADNE-ANNE TSAMBALI

    Good Evening Ladies, Gentlemen. I strongly believed that it is time of design and build a moon viallage. But not to build a research laboratory on the moon base. I understand that the worries from the Middle European Class citizen, is subject on the worries regarding the pensions schemes, social security schemes, protection in European Borders and social security money. It is all about the European Debt. But, the prosperity in Europe, will not come only by enlarging the social securty money or by reduced the European debt. We, need a Future. And I believe, it is time to watch forward. We, may, allow, European Billioner’s to invest for a moon project. The USA did. Why not, in Europe!

  25. avatar
    Luca

    Sure. So we can send all the cospirationists to our new Helium 3 mining facilities!!

  26. avatar
    Roberto

    Van Halen’s calling!? Anyone heard of it!? Look for diapers.

  27. avatar
    Mich

    That’s gonna be a great VR experience.

  28. avatar
    Danny

    If they put a frietkot in it, yeah!

  29. avatar
    Pascal

    Yes, put EU headquarters over there.

  30. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    Should Europe set up a moon base?

    Can the European tax payer afford it? What will they have to sacrifice for this change of plan? Do they want to forego their present benefit system or health care, etc., for it? Will it be prosperous for their lives in any way, including financially?

    • avatar
      EU Reform-Proactive

      Dear Catherine,

      Is it affordable? In my opinion, yes, it is easily affordable and there is a valuable return for the economy as well. According to US statistics, theirs is a ~1:8 multiplier. I didn’t check any European statistics.

      All sober EU members should suggest the EU go on a bureaucratic diet. Slim the ~6% admin costs to ~ 4% (too may politicians & bureaucracy) and give the 2% to ESA- to boost all 22 ESA members (UK incl.) economy.

      The EU Merkel/COVID plan intends to splash 500 billion euros- unspecified- (=$561 billion) in grants, plus 250 billion in loans to support well known corrupt & inefficient fellow members. Is that affordable? Surely not. Why is there no palace revolt?

      Today’s €500 billion would finance ESA for the next 71 years- or NASA’s 2020 budget for nearly 25 years. Another Merkel folly! Let Merkel’s Germany splash whatever they wish. But please, she must not mix up cohesion with coercion & political blackmail to enforce another Merkel madness! “Welcome all”!

      Let us look at the ESA budget, then check & compare it with other significant global players in that field. ESA ranks third Behind NASA & China.

      Europeans should be truly proud of ESA & their achievements!

      https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Corporate_news/Funding
      https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/space-agencies.html
      https://www.rankred.com/top-10-space-research-organisations-world/

      A simple comparison:
      • the European taxpayer contributes around one cinema ticket worth/annum.
      • NASA’s $25.2 billion budget for the 2021 fiscal year is ~4x greater than ESA’s.

      https://www.thebalance.com/nasa-budget-current-funding-and-history-3306321

      What will the EU sacrifice for a Merkel €500 billion splash? Yes, less future benefits & approaching a ~100% debt/GDP ratio. Time for her to retire!

      I would gladly give a second cinema ticket to ESA- instead of the EU!

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