Professor Johann-Dietrich Woerner was recently appointed to the position of Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) earlier this week. As the former Chair of the German Space Agency he comes well-equipped to manage the €4.4 billion annual budget of the ESA.
He will be overseeing various projects, such as, satellites used for observation, weather, communication and navigation, as well as the European astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). There are also planned missions to Mars, Mercury and Jupiter.
But, his planned mission to the Moon could be the most ambitious of them all. The Moon? Hasn’t that been done? Well, not the way he envisions it.
When everyone else is talking about Mars, Professor Woerner is talking about the Moon. He has some very good arguments in his favor.
He wants to establish a base on the far side of the moon which would include a telescope that would be able to view further out into space than any other telescope that has been developed to date.
“The far side of the Moon is very interesting because we could have telescopes looking deep into the Universe, we could do lunar science on the Moon and the international aspect is very special,” he explains. “The Americans are looking to go to Mars very soon – and I don’t see how we can do that – before going to Mars we should test what we could do on Mars on the Moon.”
He is proposing, not just a base, but an actual village on the moon. This endeavor will be just as daring and difficult as a base on Mars. But the big advantage to populating the moon with scientists, astronomers, geologists, and such, instead of Mars, is the distance.
If there is an emergency that requires help from Earth, it is only a four day trip to the moon. A trip to Mars is six months.
What we learn on the Moon, about building workable shelters, growing food, dealing with health issues, and facing a plethora of unexpected problems would be applicable to what we would face on Mars.
He says, “A Moon village shouldn’t just mean some houses, a church and a town hall,” says Woerner. “This Moon village should mean partners from all over the world contributing to this community with robotic and astronaut missions and support communication satellites.”
For the moment, the Moon village is only an idea. No one is committing any funds. There are no plans on the drawing board. But there is new interest in the Moon, especially in Europe.
So, Woerner is pushing the idea for serious discussion. If anyone can get that discussion started it will be him. He is one of the world’s most powerful and respected space figures.