EADS SPACE Transportation and Astron sign a morandum of understanding

Leiden — EADS SPACE Transportation and the Netherlands Foundation for Astronomy ASTRON/LOFAR signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday in Leiden, Netherlands. The companies want to test the feasibility of a long wave radio telescope on the moon. A Dutch and German preliminary study should be the first phase. The program is then likely to be expanded in a second phase to include other European participants through ESA. EADS SPACE and ASTRON are therefore contributing to a European moon program.

The Moon offers scientists a unique platform to detect the earliest period of our universe. Not having an ionosphere, the Moon is ideal for radio astronomy of the universe on frequencies below 10 megahertz. In addition, the far side of the Moon allows permanent protection against terrestrial radiation interference and periodic protection against solar radiation.

ASTRON, the internationally renowned expert in radio astronomy, and EADS SPACE Transportation, Europe’s leading company for access to space and space infrastructures, are combining their capabilities and experience to jointly prepare a future lunar mission programme through LIFE (Lunar Infrastructures for Exploration). Provided that the ESA Council of Ministers takes a favourable decision, implementation of the programme could start in 2008.

In addition to the erection of a radio telescope, LIFE will also provide infrastructures for other scientific applications such exploration of the solar system and geophysics. The required systems will make extremely high demands on

  • high-speed data communication,
  • high performance computing in the lunar space environment,
  • automation and robotics,
  • energy supply,
  • materials

With the LIFE programme, ASTRON and EADS ST will help to

  • strengthen and further improve Europe’s leading role in science and technology;
  • prepare an autonomous European space initiative paving the way for a future European lunar mission;
  • prepare long-term business opportunities;
  • prepare an outreach programme with which European citizens, scholars and youth can identify themselves in order to underpin the societal need for excellent scientists and technicians

EADS-ST information

EADS SPACE Transportation is the European specialist for access to space and manned space activities. It develops and produces Ariane launchers, the Columbus laboratory and the ATV cargo carrier for the International Space Station, atmospheric re-entry vehicles, missile systems for France’s deterrent force, propulsion systems and space equipment.

EADS SPACE Transportation is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS SPACE, which is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems. In 2005, EADS SPACE had a turnover of Euro 2.7 billion and 11,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2005, EADS generated revenues of Euro 34.2 billion and employed a workforce of more than 113,000.


The Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy ASTRON designs and builds instruments for astronomical research. ASTRON’s know-how and expertise are very much illustrated by the radio telescope of Westerbork. After a complete renewal in 2002, it is now once again one of the most sensitive telescopes on the face of the Earth. ASTRON is also engaged in designing and constructing optical instruments for the most advanced optical telescopes used on earth and in space. The world’s largest optical telescope in Chile’s Atacama Desert, called the Very Large Telescope, is equipped with several instruments developed by ASTRON. The future James Webb Space Telescope, the successor of the Hubble Space Telescope, will be equipped with a highly advanced infrared spectrometer made by ASTRON. LOFAR is the most recent brainchild of the ASTRON Laboratory, currently funded with 77 Million Euro by the Netherlands and European partners. In the timeframe 2007-2010 it will become the world’s largest and most advanced radio telescope operating at the longest wavelengths accessible from Earth.