With the era of the International Space Station coming to an end and that of lunar missions beginning, European astronauts from the 2009 and 2022 classes can all dream of the Moon. But not everyone will go. Futura ventures a few predictions. Last week, the European Space Agency (ESAESA) presented its new promotion of astronauts with two new bodies. This class of 2022, the fourth in its history, includes five career astronauts, 11 reserve astronauts and one astronaut with a disability. Within two years, at the end of their training, these new career astronauts will join those of the class of 2009 who, seven in number, are still active. They will enter service at the start of an exciting period in terms of manned spaceflight which “sits between two eras, that of the ISS which will stop at the end of this decade and that of the Artemis missions which will ‘open for longer,’ explained Jean-François ClervoyJean-François Clervoy during the presentation of the new ESA astronauts. Artemis: why are Americans returning to the Moon? These new astronauts will cohabit with the astronauts of the class of 2009, all of whom have already carried out a mission aboard the International Space StationInternational Space Station and even two for four of them. As the European Space Agency has committed to, each astronaut in the class of 2022 will make at least one flight, or even two if possible. Unsurprisingly, their first mission will confine them to low orbitorbit. If all of them will not go on board the International Space Station, due to lack of time or available slots, because the orbital complexorbital complex must be desorbed in January 2031, ESA will assign them to missions aboard private space stations post-ISS. While waiting to learn more about the planning of the missions of the class of 2020, those of the class of 2009 are concerned by the future lunar missions carried out within the framework of the Artemis program of NASANasa. “For the first time in history, Artemis should allow non-Americans to stay aboard the Gateway and for some to walk on the Moon” As Didier Schmitt reminds us, “Artemis is an international program with ESA, Canada and Japan which should allow for the first time in history non-Americans to stay aboard the Gateway and for some to walk on the MoonMoon”. But, if NASA has opened its lunar program to foreign astronauts, “it is not without consideration”. NASA explained that foreign astronauts will be able to stay aboard the GatewayGateway, depending on the contributions of partner countries. And ESA is “pretty well off because Europe is the main contributor to NASA’s Gateway with the supply of the I-Hab and Esprit modules between 2027 and 2028”. I-Hab is the international habitation module and Esprit, a module comprising several elements including a communication system, a refueling module, a workspace for astronauts and also a 360° observatory. Thales Alenia Space will build the two European modules of NASA’s lunar space station. Interview Circling the Moon is good. Walking on its surface is much better In this context, the European Space Agency has therefore “negotiated and obtained three places for its astronauts between 2025 and 2030”. She also negotiated the “missions on which two of these three astronauts will fly who will participate in the missions to install the I-Hab and Esprit modules that are Artemis 4 and 5”. These two places should go to a Frenchman and an Italian. Indeed, by producing these two modules, France and Italy can expect that the two astronauts who will be assigned to these missions will be one of their nationals. For France, it would be Thomas PesquetThomas Pesquet. As for the Italians, the choice will be difficult between Lucas Parmitano and Samantha Cristoforetti. But nothing is less certain. This video shows the many exploration activities that ESA is carrying out or has planned in our Solar System, from the International Space Station to the Moon with the European Service Module and Gateway modules as part of NASA’s Artemis program , and until March with the sample return campaign. © ESA How the ESA is preparing to negotiate with NASA the presence of a European on the Moon You should know that at the moment, there is in Europe a “very strong political will to send a European on the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade. The Japanese also have this desire to see one of their nationals on the Moon and would like to be the first foreigners to walk on the Moon. If their participation in the Gateway boils down to subsystems in the I-HAB module, they are nevertheless very committed to the Artemis program with the supply of a pressurized rover which is “their bargaining chip to land a Japanese on the Moon”, explains Didier Schmitt. Their pressure on the US government is all the stronger since the commissioning and first use of this rover are planned for Artemis IV. As for the European counterparties that could convince NASA to bring a European astronaut, the ESA offers the versatile, autonomous and high-capacity lunar lander Argonaut (formerly EL3). This landerlander, whose entry into service is not planned before the start of the 2030s, could be used for the logistics of the Artemis missions. The freight and equipment thus transported would be in exchange for a European on the Moon. As other services that could interest NASA, ESA could offer lunar communication and navigation services provided by the MoonlightMoonlight program. Did you know ? Unsurprisingly, the crew of two astronauts who will land on the Moon during Artemis III will be American. It will be composed of a man and a woman, one of whom will be colored. On the next mission, Artemis IV, NASA will again land a crew of two astronauts which will include an American and the first non-American astronaut who could be a Japanese. From Artemis V, the crews that will land on the Moon will be made up of four astronauts, including one European astronaut. This mission could be carried out between 2032 and 2034. Will Samantha Cristoforetti be the first European to walk on the Moon? Now, a question torments the Member States of the European Space Agency: what will be the nationality of the first European to stay on the moon. There is little doubt that ESA will award this place to one of the countries that contribute the most to the program, either to a German, an Italian or a Frenchman. After President Macron’s statement, intense political negotiations are expected. As for the astronauts, they will have to accept that political negotiations take over the rotation of the crews. The choice will therefore not be made solely on the basis of criteria of physical fitness and operational competence. You should know that all ESA astronauts are or will be able to fly around the Moon. The bets are therefore open to know who will be the astronauts of the class of 2009 who will carry out the first three “Gateway” missions and who will walk on the Moon. If we had to venture into the little games of predictions to find out which of the astronauts in service will walk on the Moon first, we place the Italian Samantha Cristoforetti at the top of our predictions, followed by the Germans Alexander Gerst and Matthias Maurer, and finally Thomas Pésquet. That said, delays in the development of the lunar lander provided by SpaceXSpaceX and the development of future lunar suits make NASA’s agenda difficult to predict. Nobody expects to see the Americans land on the Moon before 2028, which suggests that Artemis IV cannot take place before the start of the 2030s. the more time passes, the more their chance increases of being assigned to a lunar mission!