Naples – Germany is expected to scrap plans to build a robotic Moon lander that would incorporate technologies and hardware developed for Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).
Led by prime contractor Astrium Space Transportation, the $650 million mission was to be among 85 proposals the European Space Agency (ESA) is reviewing as its 20 member states meet at the ministerial level this week to decide a $13 billion multiyear spending plan.
Astrium recently completed a preliminary system requirements review of the six-month mission under a $16 million ESA study contracted in 2010, 71% of which was funded by Germany with participation from Spain, Canada, Belgium, Portugal and the Czech Republic. The project’s next phase called for ESA member states to contribute an additional $130 million over two years for continued design and development, but Germany was unable to scrape together commitments amounting to 30% of that total, a threshold necessary for consideration at the ministerial meeting.
“Our DG [ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain] felt it was not worth admitting to ministers a program which is not ready to be developed,” said ESA spokesman Franco Bonacina during a press conference here.