Walking on the moon

A COMPANY in Comet country is playing its part in getting a project to land spacecraft on the Moon off the ground. EADS Astrium in Stevenage is responsible for various aspects of the MoonTwins project, including the mission analysis, propulsion, and on-su

A COMPANY in Comet country is playing its part in getting a project to land spacecraft on the Moon off the ground.

EADS Astrium in Stevenage is responsible for various aspects of the MoonTwins project, including the mission analysis, propulsion, and on-surface mission and system requirements.

MoonTwins, which stands for Moon Technological Walk-through and In-situ Network Science, will see two spacecraft sent to the Moon.

One craft will become the first moon lander to reach the Peak of Eternal Light near the lunar south pole where the sun never sets.

Each spacecraft will also carry a seismometer which will be linked to enable scientists on Earth to study the interior of the Moon.

The mission is an essential test for the Mars Sample Return mission, which Astrium is also involved with, scheduled for 2020.

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Mars Sample Return is the most complex planetary mission ever proposed and aims to bring back Martian soil and rock.

Although some of the technology needed for this can be tested on Earth, the most effective way to test it is in space, as will be done with MoonTwins.

Mike Healy, director of space science at Astrium said: "The MoonTwins study will be a great step forward for proving the technologies needed for the next step of space exploration.

"Sending a spacecraft to the south pole has been a scientific goal for many years and exploring this area while carrying out seismic science means the MoonTwins mission will greatly expand our knowledge.