Goodbye International Space Station, Hello Moon Village

Concept idea of a lunar base by Foster+Partners. Image: ESA/Foster+Partners
The International Space Station has been occupied for nearly 15 years, but the astronauts’ lower-Earth orbit home away from home won’t be around forever—or even that much longer.

By Victoria Turk|MOTHERBOARD

So while NASA is all about reaching for Mars, the European Space Agency has its sights set a little closer to our home planet.

“Mars is a nice place, maybe—not so much for us, but it’s a nice place—but for me it’s a little bit far away from the point of view of direct vision,” new ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Woerner told me in an interview. “And therefore now what I’m putting on the table is something that can happen after the International Space Station.”

That something? A “moon village.”

Woerner’s moon village would be located on the dark side of the Moon. It could house a huge telescope that would be shaded from the radiation absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and so able to look deep into the Universe. A satellite stationed at the Lagrange Point L2—a spot where the gravitational forces from the Sun and Earth are balanced enough to keep a satellite in a fixed position—could enable communication direct from Earth to the Moon’s shadowy side. The Americans could use the base to test out their Mars-bound tech.

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